We’re coming up on the third month of physical distancing here in Canada. In Saskatchewan (the Canadian province I live in), we’re starting to open up bit by bit. It fills me with hope and concern all at once. People are antsy about getting out of their houses, so I worry that we’ll start getting a little too lax too soon.
Which brings me to the point of this pandemic check-in. We’re all watching each other: our families, our neighbours, our co-workers. We’re watching to make sure everyone is going about this pandemic “properly”. We’re watching for people making mistakes. And we’re ready to judge them if they do.
We are not going to agree with everyone.
Even before the pandemic, that was a universal truth. There is no way we are going to agree with everyone in terms of how we should be re-opening our society.
Some people are going to treat this time as if the pandemic is over.
Some people already believe that this has been blown way out of proportion.
Some people are happy to follow the governmental guidelines.
Some people are still terribly frightened of going outside.
And depending where you stand on the spectrum of reactions to the pandemic, you’re going to be judging people unlike you.
The people who think the pandemic has been blown out of proportion are judging the people wearing face masks.
The people who are still afraid to go outside are judging the people who refuse to stay 2 metres away from others.
I’ve felt it. I’ve been judging people, too!
And while I don’t really want to condone behaviour that spits in the face of medical professionals, I don’t really want to condone a state where citizens are publicly shaming each other instead of trying to help each other either.
- Thoughts on the Pandemic and Social Distancing
- Self-Care During Physical Distancing
- How to Be More Compassionate
The best you can do is control your own actions. The next best thing you can do is to gently remind people of what actions you’re taking and why you’re doing it:
Neighbour: Hey, neighbour, I”m having a big barbecue tomorrow to celebrate phase 2 of the re-open Saskatchewan plan! Wanna come?
You: Thanks for the invite, neighbour, but I’m going to continue to physically distance and stick to my circle of 10 people.
Your neighbour might shrug off your declination, they might call you stupid for following those rules, they might think about what you said. Who knows. But at least you didn’t leave that conversation feeling worse for having berated your neighbour – because, if you had, would that really have changed their mind about their barbecue?
Neighbour: Hey, neighbour, I’m having a big barbecue tomorrow to celebrate phase 2 of the re-open Saskatchewan plan! Wanna come?
You: No, I don’t want to come! We’ve been told to stick to the same 10 people for the time being, not open up our homes for parties! You’re part of the problem, neighbour! You’re the reason the second wave of this pandemic is going to be so bad!
Neighbour: Oh, yeah, you’re right, I’ll cancel my barbecue.
That doesn’t seem like the kind of response your neighbour will have for trying to shame them.
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What I’m trying to say is, as we step into new territory with opening up society after a couple months of physical distancing, try to be kind to each other. Try to pick your battles. Try to treat each other with respect, even if you disagree.
And don’t feel like you have to spend time with people that you think are being cavalier with your health and safety!
I think we’re all going to be judging each other, it’s kind of what humans do.
But you can make the choice to continue to influence those who are willing to be influenced.
You can make the choice to continue to treat others with respect and kindness, while doing whatever it is you need to do to keep yourself safe. Your safety is, of course, your first priority.
Good luck out there. Stay safe. Stay sane. I’ll see you on the other side.