Let our compassion be what’s ‘unprecedented’

They closed our businesses. They closed our schools. They closed our churches, playgrounds, movie theatres and pools.

One can’t hold the government responsible, however, if one chooses to close their mind and heart.

This year has been bizarre, to say the least. After the spread of COVID-19 into Canada, the closures that followed, and the protests against racism happening everywhere now, who even remembers the railway blockades in January and February, or the Australia wildfires?

Though the current problems of the day haven’t disappeared, they’ve certainly dissipated into the background. There were a lot of people suffering before 2020, that’s for sure, with job-loss, for example, as Alberta continues in a less-prosperous economic time, and things have continued in a seemingly downward slide.

After a few months of social isolation, some may have started adjusting, but others may be close to a breaking point.

On top of that, there is all the unrest and injustice that can be seen in North America right now.

The amount of anger, hatred, ignorance, unfeeling malice, entitlement and lack of compassion is evident in recent events and it is truly disheartening.

Video footage does not contain all the pertinent background information necessary for understanding instead of just emotionally reacting, but the visuals being served up are certainly visceral; gutting.

This generation may very well be remembered in the history books with images of masked, peaceful protesters with fists in the air, of destructive rioters and looters with the streets on fire and police using rubber bullets or tear gas. It may also become known for the more hopeful drive-thru grads and weddings.

And now people, in southern Alberta at least, are dealing with a new problem: the restoration of homes and vehicles ravaged by hail damage or flooding.

Yes, these times do seem bleak, and it is only human if one is feeling scared, discouraged or even angry. It would be easy to feel like 2020 is dishing out more hardships than is fair.

But anger, in the long run, isn’t constructive and life simply isn’t fair.

While preparation offers some protection, there are no guarantees in life. That’s not how reality works.

Storms come, viruses spread, loneliness happens, heartbreak occurs, regardless of your expectations, your plans, or what you think you deserve.

Lamenting “why me?” only puts one in the position of victim-hood. In truth, the only thing we can control in life is how we react to what happens to us.

And, if you have either managed to avoid the mire, or have already pulled yourself out, doesn’t mean you have the moral authority or right to judge or ridicule someone who’s still in it.

And let’s stop calling these times ‘unprecedented.’ While we’re certainly in frightening times, the phrase has become tired and overused; a cliche that sounds increasingly like self-pity and an ignorance of the past.

Generations before us have seen economic depressions, wars, devastating diseases and outbreaks, social injustice and struggle for reforms. We simply didn’t expect to see it in our time.

And although we felt our time was one of prosperity, enlightenment and tolerance, perhaps the things we thought long-dead ghosts were simply sleeping giants that have now reared their ugly heads.

There are many intelligent, needful conversations taking place right now, but if there is one, singular unifying lesson we can all take from all these seemingly unbelievable, random, unconnected hardships, it’s that we need to lay aside differences, entitlement and self-interest and come together as a human family, with understanding and empathy.

Instead of idle anger, misplacing blame or turning a blind eye to suffering and injustice, let’s choose to move forward with kindness and compassion and enact real change, with eyes and hearts wide open to a hopefully brighter future.

Let that be the ‘unprecedented’ legacy of our time.

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