(Disclosure: Exposing my heart; please don’t judge me…save that for my Maker)
Several years ago, our family went to Canada’s Wonderland, and I remember Kiddo, being nervous about some of the rides. I confess, I am not fond of roller coasters. I have never had any interest in going to Disney World, mainly because I just don’t enjoy such rides, so I could totally empathize with him for not wanting to go on any of the big thrill rides, either.
Well, we did finally agree we could go on the Scooby Doo Coaster together, even if we weren’t sure, as we held on tight at the top of the first hill.
But guess what? We survived, white knuckles and all.
Our province has been on quite the roller coaster ride over the past couple of weeks. The Covid regulations keep changing; even when we reached “Green”, we were never really sure how green was different from orange or yellow. Now we’ve returned to Mandatory Orders and State of Emergency, and the colour wheel seems to have totally disappeared altogether.
We’ve been on this ride before, but we seem to be experiencing it differently this time. The thrill is gone!
This week, I got thinking about how we have been reacting. We saw the nastiness Stateside, as we watched the American election. Some of it raised its ugly head through our own recent election. False news and conspiracy theories started to jade our outlooks.
How have we judged people through Covid?
How have I judged people through Covid?
Does our attitude towards people change once we get to know them on a personal level? My experience with Restorative Justice tells me, of course our attitude will change, when we hear a person’s story, and we take time to hear their heart.
Throughout this pandemic, I learned people’s resiliency to isolation and lockdowns can vary greatly.
Yes, I’ve been judgemental.
No, I’m not a judgemental person, or so I thought.
Did I judge people differently throughout the pandemic?
The widower living alone, who came to lean on social outings such as the monthly Seniors Dinner, and visiting friends at the Nursing Home was greatly impacted at the beginning of the pandemic. How did I treat them? I baked extra treats and dropped them off. I sent random greeting cards to shut-ins. I treated them with love, even if I didn’t understand the depths of their situation, or the scope of their loneliness.
I was impacted, too, when many of my volunteer activities came to a grinding halt. But I jumped for joy, at the very thought of being told I had to stay home for weeks on end. I had been given a chance to explore online classes and revisit favorite crafts and hobbies. How did I treat my extroverted friends who were forced to cut down their social circles? I scoffed when they whined and complained on Facebook about not being able to do this or that. I was certainly not acting very Christ-like, now was I? Especially as a retired guidance counsellor, I should have been more cognizant of the toll on their mental health. Why was I judging someone else’s level of resiliency?
Most of us managed to reach the Green stage unscathed. Or maybe not?
Many of us had indeed faced loss and disappointment of some sort or another through the last 18 months. It wasn’t a competition. It was just life. Hopefully, we didn’t keep a checklist and judge each other’s worth or value, based on how many things they could check off…
✅Loss of a parent or close family member. (We didn’t judge their reaction; we reached out with a caring heart, even if we were told not to hug)
✅Loss of wages or even jobs. (We didn’t judge, we found a way to help make their life a little easier, with a gas card or box of groceries)
✅Loss of social interaction, or visits with people we love (We didn’t judge the sudden lack of visits; we learned to use Zoom and FaceTime)
✅Loss of in-person volunteer activities (some gave up, only wanting to assist in person. We didn’t judge; we learned how to reach out long distance through a central coordinator, and still meet the mandate of our agencies)
✅Restricted access to public gathering spaces. (We didn’t spew hate at them; we learned to explore the great outdoors of our beautiful community)
✅Loss of indoor physical activity programs (We didn’t get angry at the massage therapists and yoga instructors; we took up Virtual Run challenges and zoom classes)
✅Enforcement of wearing masks, that NO one could say they enjoyed. (Instead, we embraced the cottage craft seamstresses that made us personalized masks)
✅Musical acts lost revenue with cancelled concerts (We didn’t spew hatred at the venues and touring companies; we embraced online Friday night kitchen parties)
My thoughts and reflections this week?
How much has our attitude changed since we entered the beginning of the pandemic, and even the Green stage this summer?
How much has MY attitude changed toward people in difficult situations?
I’ve never been much on politics, but do have a strong sense of civil responsibility. I was privileged to be part of elections for three different levels of government over the past couple of years. As an employee, it was imperative I remain neutral on any issue, candidate or political party.
I must say, remaining neutral in the public eye, is very different from showing disdain and downright disgust at the kitchen table. I had to catch myself a few times, reminding myself these are human beings that feel they are trying to make a difference. Yes, my judgemental side was coming through.
Don’t mix politics with religion, they say. Religion is not the same as spirituality, they say. Church and State should remain separate, they say.
Pray for our leaders, 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
I’ve been doing more of that, in these unsettling times.
We recently extended an invitation to our MLA, Andrea Anderson-Mason, who was on the island for a public meeting. The regulations for faith community were kind of hazy on the GNB website, so our church was just hoping for some clarification.
It’s easy to pray for Andrea, as she prayed with our group. Dr. Russell and Minister Shepherd always get added to my daily prayer list. But I caught myself…it should be easy to pray for the leaders we don’t agree with and admire, as well. Of course, our Premier will get the prayers of the praying people. Minister Cardy, has seen much hatred, especially in recent weeks, as school policy keeps changing.
I shall pray harder for this man.
I like how Andrea, a lady of faith herself, stated as Christians, we should be choosing our battles. Is our battle going to be with government? Or is our battle for a greater cause? A cause for unity and peace. Indeed God only knows.
The most recent restrictions announced have stepped up yet another notch, with masks not being enough. Vaccination is not enough. Now proof of double vaccination is not just recommended, but now REQUIRED in public places, including church.
Although I don’t usually announce my beliefs publicly, I was getting frustrated with anti-vaxxers. I viewed them as inconsiderate people who were putting our most vulnerable people at risk. People I care about. My mother-in-law, who has had issues with pneumonia, can not risk being exposed to Covid. She has barely gone out in public for over a year. It is our responsibility to protect her.
So, our family has all been double vaccinated.
My father has spent weeks in hospital for a major surgery. Covid prevented us from being able to visit him. Again, FaceTime to the rescue. He is presently awaiting another surgery…and it has been delayed too many times, as our health care system is being stretched to the limits. Increased covid cases tying up hospital resources are preventing him from getting his surgery, needed for better quality of life.
Yes, I’ve been angry with those not willing to get the vaccination.
You don’t have the right to put these people, and so many more at risk.
Then I remind myself of my RJ roots.
Listen to their stories. Listen to their hearts; just as I hope they listen to mine.
Am I treating those of us that are vaccinated with a “Holier than thou” attitude? It has already been proven the vaccinated can still be carriers, and can still catch the virus.
Shame on me.
Shame on us.
Some are scared. Some have genuine health concerns, reactions, etc. Some are young. Some don’t understand the past generations that felt the same, but got their polio shots, as a sense of civic duty.
Some are my friends. People whom I dearly love.
They aren’t treating me with disdain for getting the shot. They are doing what they feel they can to protect us, by wearing a mask, distancing, and limiting their public activities.
And they are praying for me.
We could be far less judgemental when we know and care about the people in our lives, who are also making difficult decisions for themselves and their families.
The same can be said about the local businesses and organizations that have been put in a difficult position of having to ask to see proof of vaccination and ID. Whether it be restaurants, the ferry cafeteria, churches, curling club or community center. No one likes the idea of having to turn patrons away. We all pray this will be over sooner than later. I’m truly amazed, here in our small community, at people who want to take up their axes to grind; against our neighbours, the very community members who have struggled throughout the pandemic to serve us, and provide for us. People that have invested in our community (whether they are Islanders, or people from away), to make this a better place, yet are still floundering to stay afloat. Fines for refusing to follow the rules can literally sink some of these places. Bless you, for making our community a safer and better place. You deserve to be protected, just as our community members do. The battle is with our government, not each other. Don’t let this divide us.
Have we forgotten how to be kind since the beginning of the pandemic?
The night of Andrea’s public meeting, was also the night of Peter Cunningham’s presentation at the Museum, “Disappearing before our eyes”. I erroneously thought her meeting would be filled with negativity from angry citizens. I was torn, as I wanted to go to both and hear how Grand Manan would be impacted by the latest announcements…yet knowing Peter’s would touch my spirit.
I’m grateful to a woman who represents us in the legislature with a caring heart, and listens to people’s concerns, and understanding small community life.
I’m also very grateful for a man from away who is very much part of the Grand Manan community; who also listens with his heart, and captures the stories of our community.
Thank you both, for reminding us of the strength of our faith on this island.
Have we forgotten how to listen and care for our neighbour, regardless of our differences? Despite our differences?
Be still. And listen.