Reflections on a pandemic: what have we learned?

The Covid-19 global pandemic has been with us now for 14 months. From its somewhat inauspicious beginnings in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019 it has now spread to 150 countries around the globe and has infected 111 million people. Of those infected 2.5 million have died. Canada has so far recorded 833,000 infected and 21,500 deaths. The death rate from Covid—19 in Canada amongst elders (defined here as those over 60 years of age) has thus far been about 12 times higher than in the rest of the population.

At the height of the pandemic in early 2020 a common scenario was one of storefronts being closed or boarded up, people hunkered down and empty streets. Sceptics doubted that life would return to normal, some speculated on a possible grim Dickensian post-pandemic world. Many doubted that life could ever be the same. Covid-19 is not the first pandemic to strike Canada and almost certainly won’t be the last. It is nonetheless the biggest external factor currently impacting our lives in terms of any number of criteria. The end is not yet within sight.

Past catastrophic events across the globe have shown that most people can and do bounce back. But they don’t necessarily bounce in the right direction. Post-lockdown Wuhan has been one example of rebound. Eight months after serving as the global Covid-19 flashpoint, the city staged a massive waterpark music festival attracting thousands of people – no protective masks, no social distancing. People apparently don’t automatically learn from past [negative] experiences.

Covid-19 has not been the worst global pandemic in history, nor has it been the most destructive for us as Earth inhabitants. As Elders (in the chronological sense of the term) we have seen some of this before. Some of us may have even lived through pandemics, wars and conflicts, and natural disasters of similar scale and effect.

If we raise our gaze above international calamities caused by microbes now and in the past we may be disturbed to see yet more bearing down on us as a result of climate disruption, technological overshoot, environmental degradation and/or economic collapse.

Will we (or can we) change and grow in the wake of the pandemic? Will or can the country and society change behaviour as a result of the pandemic experience? How should we act and conduct our affairs to either avoid or at least minimize the effects of another major setback?

More to the point – how will we Elders react to what we have seen and experienced? Many of us have seen and experienced worse in our lives. We have spun a tale or two from those recollections.  Might we do the same or better again?

This series of stories, anecdotes, musings, analyses and anything else you care to name them, is intended as an outlet for Elder knowledge, experience and advice given out during the pandemic.  What should we and ours now prioritize going forward?  What should we take care to avoid?

Elders are invited to share their recollections, thoughts, aspirations, and aggravations.  Any length of written contribution  will do, most recent web posts have been in the 600 to 1200 word range.  Pictures, photographs and original art works are welcome.

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  1. One of the oldest mottos I remember is the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” and as a son, Boy Scout, Sea Cadet, Scout Leader, sailor, explorer, educator, parent, husband, etc. I have learned to apply it as often as I possibly can. The COVID19 pandemic was a speed bump on the highway of history. It has distracted most of us from our normality but we are recovering from it and the distress it has caused. The climate emergency is the absolutely most important issue facing humanity and I hope we can unite in sufficient numbers to bring about the changes we collectively need in order for our species to exist on this amazing planet called Earth.

    1. Thank you Stan for the recap and also for this new opportunity as we all forge forward.
      Adding on to Paul’s comment; may we be prepared, not scared, as we move ahead.

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