By Anthony Sanfilippo
Reading the New York Times these days can be a rather jarring emotional experience. It is replete with stories of people and families devastated by the COVID crisis. Excruciatingly detailed and poignant accounts of people dying in their homes or hospitals, isolated from surroundings and those who have been significant to them. Married couples dying within hours of each other leaving shattered families behind, all deprived of the end of life processes that would normally help with the grieving process and achievement of some emotional closure. Hospital workers struggling to provide some modicum of solace and dignity before having to move along to the next patient.
Turn the page, and you read accounts of protests by those decrying the restrictions that have been imposed by their governments, claiming their rights to choose to assemble and assume the personal risk.
These stories are not limited to New York or even the United States. They come from Italy, Britain, Mexico, South America, the Far East. It seems no place is spared, although the impact and time course varies considerably.
In our own characteristically muted fashion, the same dramas are playing out in Canada. Political leaders, hearing loud and clear from all constituencies and all perspectives, struggle to strike a balanced and responsible approach.
All this serves to highlight two great realities of this pandemic. Firstly, it is affecting virtually every human being on the planet. The sheer scope is mind-boggling and it’s difficult to think of any prior catastrophe that even comes close. The second reality is that its very nature is such that it renders each of us both a target and a mechanism for spread. We are simultaneously potential victims and potential perpetrators. We are all therefore forced to make choices, and those choices are expressed not through words so much as through our actions.