Grandpa, what did you do during the Pandemic of 2020?

There should be no doubt that these are difficult times. The COVID-19 outbreak will go down in history as one of the defining moments of our time. Unlike those who can tell you where they were when the planes hit the Twin Towers, we likely won’t remember the exact moment we first heard about the coronavirus, but we will certainly remember how it changed our lives. In fact, the period before self-isolation is already starting to feel like a distant memory to me.

Many people are at home with children, or trying to help their older friends and relatives either in person or remotely. This is all noble work that we can take pride in. If these are the kinds of things you’re doing, you’re doing plenty and you are certainly helping to flatten the curve.

Some people are going way beyond. A house painter and general handyman I know of, who has no work and therefore no income right now, is making grocery runs for shut-ins and even purchasing baby supplies and other products for single parents.

We all know of the sacrifices being made by health-care and other frontline workers, including retail employees, pharmacists, paramedics, military personnel, peace officers and firefighters. A grateful nation salutes you.

Our elected officials at all levels and from across the political spectrum are putting aside their differences to work toward solutions to get the country healthy and functioning normally once again. Every day they are on TV, facing the scrutiny of our news media, who are fulfilling their function by asking the tough questions on behalf of all of us.

This isn’t fun and games for any of them. When the Prime Minister or a provincial premier holds a news conference, they might have the answers to the most likely questions bookmarked in their heads, but it’s tough work, and they’re doing it every single day. Yes, they are being paid well. Yes, you could say that this is what they signed up for. But they are doing it, and they are doing it to the best of their abilities. 

Regardless whether I personally agree with any politician’s actions or ideology, I remain convinced that the vast majority of our political leaders are doing what they believe is in the best interests of our nation – even when I don’t like what they are doing.

I am personally heartened to see Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being not just civil, but respectful to each other, during this time of crisis. I applaud Premier Ford for personally loading up his pickup truck and helping to deliver donated medical supplies – without alerting the media first. 

I applaud Prime Minister Trudeau for showing up every day, seven days a week, to address the nation while under self-isolation due to his wife’s COVID-19 diagnosis. 

I applaud the Conservative Party of Canada and various provincial parties for delaying their leadership races because they know that the hyper-partisanship that is necessarily a part of these exercises would not be helpful right now.

So when I see the trolls on social media with neither anything new nor anything constructive to say about the situation we’re in, I can’t help but to feel a little sad for them. 

I feel sad for them because someday our grandkids are going to ask us what we did during the coronavirus pandemic. I will be able to say that I practiced social distancing to prevent it from spreading, I made sure my quarantined neighbour had the supplies he needed, and I helped to keep my mother from feeling alone during this time. 

Others will be able to boast that they did something truly heroic. They saved lives, or gave up their own paycheques so employees would be able to make their rent, or they just helped someone who was feeling sad about all this to feel a little better.

There will be plenty of time to dissect each and every decision being made by each and every politician once this is all over and, frankly, that is what we as a nation should do so we can be better prepared for the next crisis.

But when your grandkids ask what you did during the Pandemic of 2020, I hope you will be able to say you were one of the helpers and not just, “I sat on my couch and spread conspiracy theories while complaining about the government on Twitter.” 

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