OPINION: Social isolation has taught us what we value most


I was talking on the phone to my 73-year-old cousin in Ireland who after six weeks in complete lockdown was finally allowed to go outside. The first place she went was to the sea.

While she could see it from her kitchen window, she couldn’t smell it and that was unbearable. After a walk along the promenade, she sat in her car for 90 minutes watching people pass by. Then she drove to a river and took a stroll along its green banks.

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It spoke so beautifully to me of what we need as humans when we are forced to isolate. The draw of nature and human contact is so strong that when we can we run to the outdoors and to our family and friends.

Luckily in our community isolation rules have allowed us to enjoy the beauty of nature and spring has never felt so magical here in South Delta. The streets are flooded with people walking and biking, we talk to one another from a distance and it feels good to see people even if it's from afar.

We are clever too, inventing original ways to stay connected. My girlfriend said she had a special birthday because of neighbours and friends who stood apart on her lawn and sang her Happy Birthday. Teachers and school staff are driving through neighbourhoods in their cars waving and honking to let students know they miss them.

Now we are on the doorstep of Phase 2 to restart our economy. Social isolation rules may seem like a walk in the park compared to this next move forward. This will not be easy and we must take it slow.  

The daily decisions of when and where to go as individuals and as families will affect our community as a whole. Social responsibility is key and our leaders have made it clear it’s up to us to use common sense. 

This approach would not be possible under any other leadership than Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix. Their restart plan is almost vague with the guiding principles to be kind, be safe and stay calm. 

Under that moral umbrella we are being asked to navigate Phase 2 with a sense of collective consciousness.While they are providing us with guidelines, they are asking us to act like adults, to make decisions for ourselves in a society that looks very different from a few months ago.

We must be up for the challenge and follow rules. This virus outbreak has taught us how intrinsic we are to one another, and the importance of a cohesive community has never been so critical.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted what we crave most: nature and one another. Now it’s challenging us again, to act responsibly based on the greater good of all. I genuinely hope we can do that, if only for the love of one another.

Ingrid Abbott is freelance broadcaster and writer who hopes Dr. Bonnie Henry will consider doing daily briefings after the pandemic just to make her feel better about the world.

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