amongst books

amongst books

Monday, May 25, 2020

Ottawa, May 25, 2020 – connection and its impact


I went out for a small wander today. I hadn’t been outside since Friday. wow, the blooms have really come out, and so much green too! it smelled sweet after the rain—scent of wet grass and lilacs.

I had another realization, or I guess the same one, but in a different context again. A man wearing a mask and walking his dog was heading toward me on Percy (I had to edit “A man and his dog wearing a mask" – heh heh). I was on the inside of the sidewalk going south. Man and dog were on the outside going north. I assumed the man would step off the sidewalk and onto the road for physical distancing measures, because there’s an unwritten rule for these navigations that the person on the outside does the yielding. But he didn’t. I had a moment of panic as we passed each other only inches apart.

Afterward I reminded myself that I cannot control other people’s actions. I know I keep saying this, but I think it bears repeating as a reminder to myself and possibly to you. I cannot police others and their behaviour. They will do what they will do. But in that instance, as we were heading toward each other, I could have crossed the street myself to ensure we were far enough away from each other. I didn’t have to rely on him to make the decision about my safety and his own. I could make it for both of us.

So next time, I’m going to remember that. I am going to control what I do when I can. I’m not going to concern myself with the actions of others.

I see a lot of anger on social media over people not respecting physical distancing or not wearing a mask etc. I understand the anger. It is scary to realize that the safety of those we love, of ourselves, hinges upon the behaviour of others. This pandemic has highlighted a truth we have already known in the back of our minds and in our heart of hearts: we are all connected. Since we are all connected, our actions affect others, and others’ actions affect us. Never has this been so obvious and scary as during Covid-19. We are vulnerable because we have to rely on each other to survive, so that our loved ones survive. We have to protect each other.

The consequences of not protecting each other are global warming and pollution, gendered violence, child abuse, worker exploitation discrimination and hate based on race, gender, sexual orientation body type, age, religion …it is and has always been true that if we treat each other badly, there will be negative consequences on the society and the planet as a whole.

And once more, the only person whose actions you can control is you. Think about that. I think this is what the pandemic has taught me. I doubt I will ever again be oblivious to the fact that my actions, my beliefs, and my behaviour affect more than just me. I need to act accordingly.

Perhaps this pandemic will teach us to be aware of our effect on others. Perhaps it won’t teach all of us, but that’s not up to me, and it’s not up to you. The only thing that we can control are our own actions and attitude. But maybe with enough of us out there with that understanding, we will make a difference.

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