If the Black Summer bushfires brought out the best in many people, it seems COVID-19 is bringing out the worst.
When bushfires raged across our wide, brown land, we faced them as one.
Volunteers travelled from interstate, and even overseas, to battle the beast. Community groups and individuals donated time, money and resources to make sure people were fed and had a roof over their heads.
Incredible amounts of money were raised to help our fellow Australians get back on their feet.
In Batemans Bay, the love we felt from Canberrans was almost overwhelming. So many good thoughts, good deeds and support. Even hugs – remember them?
Canberra and the South Coast have always had a love-hate relationship. Canberrans love to visit and many ‘coasties’ hate to share their piece of paradise.
But, like family that bickers at Christmas but won’t hear a bad word spoken by anyone else, we have a bond. Canberrans stream down the Kings Highway for weekends and holidays, and often to retire, while coasties travel up the mountain for medical appointments, work, entertainment and education.
Canberrans spend money in our shops, dine in our restaurants and help pay the rates for our facilities. They come, year after year, often bringing children who grow up to do the same.
Sadly, our reaction to COVID-19 has the potential to bring all that undone. Where bushfires brought us together, it seems COVID-19 is driving us apart.
READ ALSO: Six months on, bushfire scars remain
Despite there being no COVID-19 cases in the ACT for more than a month, the online hatred exhibited during this pandemic has some Canberrans reassessing their next holiday destination.
It seems fear, ignorance and a need to find someone to blame is overtaking our commonsense. No-one could have predicted the fights over toilet paper, the battles over masks and the general abuse that now seems part of everyday Australian life.
We all have a part to play in stopping COVID-19’s spread. Social distancing, washing our hands and following appropriate health directions are givens. What doesn’t help is finger pointing, insults and aggression.
COVID-19 has irrevocably changed all our lives. It’s changed the way we celebrate births and deaths and everything in between.
Dream weddings have been abandoned, grandparents have missed the joy of holding a newborn, families have been unable to comfort each other when a loved one draws their last breath. There are 18ths, 21sts, graduations and formals that won’t be celebrated. So many life events that can’t be marked in the usual way.
Far too many people have already died, and, sadly, it is likely that many more will follow.
Politicians and health authorities have deemed that border closures and shutdowns are necessary to get the pandemic under control. It’s perfectly understandable that we need to be physically separated during these terrible times, but let’s not become emotionally divided as well.
We will get through this together.
COVID-19 has robbed us all of so much – don’t let it take our humanity as well.