In the final leg of this pandemic race, as we await vaccinations, it’s a good time to reflect on the maybe not-so-obvious silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis. (Francisco Seco/AP photo )

In the final leg of this pandemic race, as we await vaccinations, it’s a good time to reflect on the maybe not-so-obvious silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis. (Francisco Seco/AP photo )

COLUMN: Yes, there’s a silver lining to the pandemic

At the risk of drawing ire, it’s a good time to consider an important lesson from COVID-19

I’m fully aware no one wants to hear this.

It’s been an unlucky 13 months of masks and social paranoia, and we’re not in the end zone yet.

We’ve been inundated with daily Canadian COVID-19 fatality reports and demoralizing news from around the world. We now laugh morbidly at the idea of a ‘novel coronavirus’ while reports of new variants flood in.

While generally heartening, the vaccine rollout is starting to feel like being in limbo – the waiting room between crisis and recovery.

There’s a positive outlook that can be applied here. Yes, there is a bright side of a virus, and it has nothing to do with cutting down on unnecessary in-person meetings. Well, sort of…

Never before has the world come together around a single issue in unison quite like this, with global attention dialled into the same frequency.

There have been many global pandemics in human history, but this is the first to feature Facebook live-streamed press conferences and TikTok dances.

Well, so what if the world has ‘come together?’ It was nice to know that when we were outside banging pots and pans for our local essential workers, Italians were also singing from their balconies. It was a mild salve to know we were all in this together.

But what real comfort is there, if the thing that we’re all sharing is miserable and isolating?

The silver lining is more like the realization of latent energy towards something truly positive.

The ‘global community’ is an unfortunately slandered concept. The globalists are out to get you, some say. Well, if the globalists are as powerful as we’re urged to believe, I imagine they’d have done a much better job coordinating a global pandemic response.

Our society is woefully Westernized. We’re invested in Western tragedies, but our empathy metre, fine-tuned to social injustices, tends to run out of bandwidth by the time we get to the Middle East and Asia.

We might not realize it, but we actually should care about the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China if we’re interested in establishing irrevocable norms around crimes against humanity.

We also care about nuclear de-proliferation if we’re interested in our collective future. And we care about cybersecurity out of interest in our current lives, which are ‘going virtual.’

It seems to take at least half a decade to solve a humanitarian crisis, judging by the timeline of the migrant crisis that was declared over by the European Commission in March 2019.

Such a timeline can be untenable. We’ll need the force of a coordinated global community to fast-track our way out of future crises – for example, a super-spreader disease with 40 per cent fatality rate.

Therein lies the silver lining, and it’s more of an individual mindset than anything.

Many people can probably remember a moment when they quietly sat alone, thinking about a boy in Brazil mourning the loss of his grandmother, or elderly people in care homes across this continent, some living out their final weeks and months in desperate isolation from their families.

That kind of international connectivity is about as rare as a pandemic. Ideally, we can harness that far-reaching empathy to build something that can withstand the worst of the unknown.

It’s something worth mentioning while we’re still in the middle of it all, while that curious sense of global camaraderie doesn’t have to be remembered.

READ MORE: B.C.’s oldest COVID-19 survivor to celebrate 105th birthday in Vernon

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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