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We’re not well. And thanks to COVID-19, we’re likely not going to be well for a considerable time to come

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19.10.2020

It’s a sad, sad, sad, sad world.

Just slap a scowling emoji on the planet. Or a teary face. Definitely a mask.

Amidst a second wave of pandemic, resurrected restrictions and staring down what will doubtless be a bleak winter of isolation, spirits are flattened. Lower to the ground than the belly of the infection curve.

The affect of the effect, affected behaviour a psychological term for emotional response that is blunted, often a symptom of depression.

But also the disaffected, increasingly dubious about the ham-fisted pounding from public health experts, from doctors, from scientists. Because not one single person, from among those who pushed hardest for at least a targeted rezippering of society — which essentially means another kick in the goolies for the economy — will lose their own job.

So no, it’s not a shared burden. The brilliant epidemiologists, the honestly alarmed medical officers girding for battle anew with a relentless plague, the strident media commentators shaming “CO-vidiots” — none have to concern themselves with the existential health of the commonwealth. That immense contending falls on the unemployed waitress, the part-time clerk, the bankrupt restaurateur, the bookstore owner, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. And every poor schlub that has to clamber aboard a petri-dish streetcar to get from here to there.

This is not coexisting with the coronavirus, which quite evidently isn’t packing up its microbes and taking the next stagecoach out of town. Cut to the chase, coexisting is what we must learn to do, for now.

But all those doctor savants should also be mindful of the Hippocratic Oath they’ve taken: Do no harm.

In the context of a plague that’s brought nations to their knees: any intervention must be mindful of mitigating potential negative impacts on the social fabric. Which was profoundly not the case when long-term-care facilities were stuffed — too late — into a bell jar, so that the elderly and the infirm were plunged into insulated loneliness, as cruel as the disease from which they were being protected.

Authorities never really felt for the fading pulse of that community.

Convince us that the sacrifices demanded are worth the candle. Because we’re more than just our vulnerable bodies. We’re also our skeptical minds, our fluctuating moods, our exhausted esprit de COVID. And we’re depressed to hell.

We’re not well. We’re likely not going to be well for a considerable time to come. A vaccine against COVID-19 won’t be a silver bullet either, whenever it’s concocted. International scientists have been working on it for at least a year. But the most rapid vaccine ever invented — for mumps — took four years. Thirty-seven years later, there’s still no vaccine — a prophylactic — for AIDS.

Anticipate “well-being’’ — the state of being comfortable, healthy, happy, checking all the boxes of societal contentment — to be a distant destination, or grasped only occasionally, fleetingly, when adrenalin soars. Because humans are, by nature, an innately buoyant species. Before we rise again, however, expect the nosedive: something evil and relentless this way comes, this way staying.

“Probably,” says Bryan Smale, director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo, which crunches data on a wide array of indicators, attempting to answer the existential question: How Are Canadians Really Doing?

“Things that allow people to flourish, personal quality of life, their families,........

© Peterborough Examiner


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