Columnist Glenn Mitchell says the COVID-19 pandemic has helped illustrate the things that really matter in life. (Pixzolo Photography on Unsplash)

Mitchell’s Musings: Priorities come into focus as crisis continues

What can you say about the coronavirus that hasn’t been said 24-7 already?

As the media keeps track of the number of cases and victims almost like a telethon – “we’re going higher, folks, how high it goes nobody knows” – except instead of spreading hope and dollars for a cause we’re spreading fear and anxiety and there’s no number to call to donate 20 bucks and make us feel better.

Plus a telethon ends, eventually. This pandemic will too, we just don’t know when and what toll it will take on our neighbourhood, our city, our province, our country, our world.

And then there’s the side effects: our economy, our trust in our leaders, our trust in science, our trust in each other, indeed, our trust in our ability to look out for ourselves and our families.

However, in the meantime, we have to get used to a new normal, and likely when it’s all over as well. If this virus thing only lasts a couple weeks, we will likely go back to the way things were fairly quickly without thinking much about lessons learned along the way.

But if this lasts into the summer, I think we’re talking about some serious soul searching about our collective priorities in life.

Who knew that in a crisis that toilet paper, Kraft Dinner, flour, soup and meat were the go-to items?

Well, I actually kind of like that when push comes to shove, it’s down to the basics of life. I mean KD and tomato soup got me through college and I’m still fond of the pairing.

Throw in the occasional grilled cheese and you’ve got a menu to get you through any semester, and maybe a self-isolation or two.

And it takes a crisis to reveal the real heroes out there.

Beyond the obvious healthcare workers (Hi Dr. Bonnie) and emergency personnel, we are also truly grateful for the grocery staff that keeps the food coming, the pharmacists that ensure our parents get their meds and the everyday people who staff the wicket at the bank, the pump at the gas station and even, sometimes, the till at the liquor store. They are all vital in their own way and we are so sorry for taking you for granted all these years.

The rest of us, of course, are no longer working and dealing with the consequences as best we can. It’s ironic that at a time when we could all use a group hug in the worst way, it’s strictly forbidden.

But then there’s a lot to ponder as we are forced to slow down and think about this mess we’ve got ourselves into.

Like how, apparently, it’s almost tolerable to have the leader of the free world be a charlatan, a con man, a cheat and a few other ‘c’ words, as long as the economy is sailing along and everyone’s retirement funds are soaring. But when that same leader is tested by a crisis and the economy tanks and any gains he claims he created on the stock market over the past three years have vanished, maybe the BSing isn’t so OK after all and the buck stops where?

And relying on China for half the stuff in our material world when their government tried to hide the coronavirus under a rug for so long the rug now covers the entire world? Uh, no.

At least the price of gas is down to a buck, except then we realize we still have three-quarters of a tank cause there’s nowhere to go.

I think it helps a little though, as we look outside our window at the world we used to inhabit on a more regular basis, to think about all the things we took for granted before March 12, 2020, like the freedom to move, freedom to assemble, freedom to feel secure, freedom to enjoy good health, the freedom to live.

And, ironically once again, despite being in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis, we should appreciate how truly lucky we are. And that we have the power to make it even better.

Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of the Morning Star. Fan mail can be emailed to mitchchap1@outlook.com.

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