Nfld. & Labrador·Opinion

If you are freaking out over the pandemic, you most certainly don't need to apologize

This is one of the biggies, an existential worry for modern humanity, writes Edward Riche.

This is one of the biggies, an existential worry for modern humanity

Cemetery workers and funeral agency workers in protective masks transport a coffin in Bergamo, Italy, a city about the same size as St. John's. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

More than one friend has reported being "freaked out" by the situation we now all find ourselves in. There is an apologetic tone in their accounts of anxiety, of agitation and of growing cabin fever.

There is nothing for which to apologize.

This is one of the biggies: an existential worry for modern humanity. "Pandemic" is one of those global nuclear war, approaching asteroid, weirdo monolith found buried on the moon sorts of apprehensions that have always resided in the shadows of any curious mind. We've been warned of the inevitability of a pandemic since before I can remember.

We were told it was going to happen in our lifetime or the next — so long as we continued to grow in numbers and squeezed the planet harder and harder.

That it came along when the president of the United States was Donald Trump was unlucky. You are allowed to be freaked out.

A big ask for all of us

Fortunately, in spite of the efforts of certain conservative forces, we still have a public health-care system and science to deal with the problem. The big ask of us, that we compulsively wash our hands and chill at home until mass testing can be undertaken and a vaccine developed, could not be more reasonable.

A significant segment of this group know they are arseholes and simply don't care.

The western world has a sleep deficit and it is proven that getting enough quality shut-eye boosts your immune system more than anything else you can do.

Now, to help, you can stay home and rest.

I have only witnessed my fellow townies behaving their best, following protocols, keeping their distance and cool heads. We all know now of selfish morons, straight off the plane from Florida and into Costco via Tim Hortons to hoard toilet paper, unable or unwilling to grasp the notion of the collective.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would like the American economy to be operating regularly by Easter. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A significant segment of this group know they are arseholes and simply don't care. There isn't much we can do about them other than sigh and call the cops … or run them over with the truck. Kidding, just kidding.

It's been heartening to see good corporate citizenry in the face of all this, like Sunwing stepping up to return Canadians abroad at no charge. (Contrast Air Canada's and WestJet's profoundly disappointing insistence on charging customers fees for tickets cancelled in accordance with the wishes of the Canadian government, presumably so these slippery outfits can hold banked credits for ransom when they go looking for their government bailout.)

We see the businesses that are part of the community trying to pay their workers even as the receivables dwindle. We hear more clearly the gleeful cackling of the greedy bankers who pretend to help by suspending payments while still running the clock on the interest.

It's all of us together, folks

We are reminded again of the daily heroism of front-line health-care workers. We learn that the cleaning staff and folks working at the grocery store are vital to our society.

And like nothing else before it's "we all" — it is the entire human family. We really are all in this together. It's something we needed to heed long before this crisis.

A protective glove lies on a street in Ottawa. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

"You are allowed to be freaked out."

But you need not become paralyzed with fear. What we are experiencing has an end. You cannot carry on as you did before, but there is much you can accomplish.

No one is asking you to write King Lear but you can do more from home than ever before. In my professional sphere while film and stage production must be put on hold, the development of new work can be stepped up. (My only excuse for not working on that script right now is being freaked out.)

Many of us can get ready for the return to work, can go to our twine loft, the winter gales raging, and mend a few nets.

A worker in a protective suit collects a throat swab specimen from a passenger coming from Australia to Shanghai, China. Authorities around the world are imposing strict restrictions on travel. (China Daily/Reuters)

We have a problem we can help resolve by washing our hands, staying at home and sleeping for eight hours a night.

We all get a little freaked out, but knowing we'll soon again put our arms around family and friends we can keep it together.

We've got this.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Edward Riche


Edward Riche writes for the page, stage and screen. He lives in St. John's.

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