BUILDING BRIDGES: Physical distance doesn’t mean emotional distance

Last month, I wrote about the coronavirus being wrongfully attached to the Chinese community.

On Feb. 5, 2020 the Province headlined the front page of their newspaper with reference to the ‘China virus’ – which was both racist and irresponsible.

Unfortunately, this was also a reflection of the narrative in the general community, as evidenced by a decline in frequenting Asian businesses and outright displays of hostility toward Chinese-looking people. While what we have learned of the virus since its outbreak may be confusing or unclear, one thing we do know is that this virus knows no race, religion or socio-economic status. It sees us as all as hosts because of the thing we have in common: we are human.

As the number of cases escalated in countries like Italy and Iran, and as we have seen COVID-19 declared a global pandemic, it became more clear that this is a collective issue and responsibility. At the time of writing, I note that over the last two days the feeling in our community has turned from amusement at the stockpiling of toilet paper to something that feels quite sombre. I see it on the faces of parents as we pick up our children from quieter school playgrounds.

I dropped my daughter off to her Grade 1 classroom this morning just before class started and counted 10 children hanging up their coats and backpacks, curiously looking around at their half-empty classroom. Despite our cancelled vacation plans, I’m thankful that spring break is here – a chance to hunker down and keep ourselves from social situations that might spread the bug. I am determined to do my part in flattening the curve, making sure that the spike of this illness isn’t higher than it needs to be. And we must all do this, not for ourselves or those in our household or immediate circles, but for the greater community. For each other.

If there is one thing I hope we are taking note of in this distressing situation, it’s that we really, truly belong to each other. I’ve tried to drive this notion home in the past by reminding readers that we all feel joy and we all feel fear, thereby trying to connect us to each other by our primal feelings. But here is something else that’s making the same point – an outsider, if you will, that doesn’t care about any of our differences. It sees us all the same.

When you are out and about, gathering goods for your pantry and freezers, ask yourself who you know who might need help. Someone who lives on your street? A local shelter? Your extended family? Someone you know who might be struggling under regular circumstances who might need some support, even emotionally.

Reach out to folks who might suffer from anxiety. Share what you can, spare what you can. Whether it’s hand sanitizer or hope. Especially hope.

With events being cancelled, some dreams are being postponed. Things we looked forward to feel like they have vanished into thin air. These losses are also contributing to a collective grief. Perhaps we can think of how we can contribute to a collective hope. We may have to keep our distance physically from each other, but not emotionally.

Read books, share your thoughts, keep art in your life, stay connected. Be kind and generous, and conscious of each other. My very best thoughts to all of you readers for a healthy time ahead.

All for one and one for all.

Columnist Taslim Jaffer writes monthly on multicultural connections.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

April 7: Brewery starts making hand sanitizer, City of White Rock and Surrey lays off employees

Surrey bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

Routes he drove have not been disclosed

Surrey mayor denies property tax deferral motion

Councillor’s notice of motion for Surrey property taxes to be deferred until Dec. 2 out of order

Team refunds OK’d for cancelled Surrey Mayor’s Cup soccer tournament

The decision follows the amalgamation of the Central City Breakers club with Surrey Football Club

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read

l -->