THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (April 13, 2020)
My morning ritual used to involve waking up, having a shot of apple cider vinegar, then toasting the day with my version of the Serenity Prayer. While I still do that, I’ve added another line: try to do more good than harm. During these complicated, confusing times, my at-risk family and I are self-isolating as directed. I am the designated shopper, and only venture out (nervously) to pick up prescriptions and food. I try to limit those trips to once every two weeks. The other day, I felt strange going to the supermarket armed with hand sanitizer, and wearing gloves, eye wear, a mask, and a rain poncho over my winter coat. Fashion be damned! With so little good information about exactly how contagious this deadly COVID-19 virus is, I try to be as vigilant as possible. That said, some others are not. In the past month, I have personally observed the best and worst of human behaviour. While some selfless souls go above and beyond normal altruism to help those in need, there are always those who follow the “me first” strategy. No matter how much we have it drummed into our heads – and I’m sure my readers are as tired as I am of hearing the warnings and advice from public spokespeople - there will always be some among us who just don’t get it.
Before we rebuilt our home, enabling us to move up here full time in 2006, we were spring-autumn residents. We were the “citiots”, as some locals sarcastically referred to us. We were lumped in among the “intruders” who in some cases, bring with them their arrogance, disrespect, and big city attitude. During the past 14 years, I think we gradually became accepted as locals. We are now in the strange position of having experienced local residency from both sides. In fact, many permanent residents of this community were at one time city folk who chose to re-locate to the country. There is a great deal of discussion (and rage) on social media these days about the summer residents coming up here from Toronto. Some are fearful and angry that those part-time residents might tax our local resources and services, or worse, exacerbate community spread. I admit I am concerned about that as well. Stories are circulating about part-time residents coming up from the cities, packing shopping carts full of food at the local grocery stores, and preparing for large, unsanctioned Easter gatherings. Here’s my 2 cents worth.
Rude, selfish, boorish behaviour is omnipresent in our world today, even up here in bucolic cottage country. Rump, the Imbecilic Orange Emperor, has, by proxy, given the world a green light to be the worst we can be. Bad behaviour transcends generalizations like local or summer resident, Black, Red, White, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Bi, Gay, Straight, Leafs fan, Senators fan, etc. We have become so tribal, so fragmented, so intolerant, that it is no wonder we are adopting the not-in-my-backyard mentality. I understand that people are afraid. I’m afraid. This is the greatest threat I have ever seen to our future as a species. I am angry about everyone who is defying common sense dictates, and breaking the rules with risky behaviour. Let’s be realistic, we are all of us, at some point or another guilty of senseless, selfish behaviour. My biggest concern is that so many of us cannot see the big picture. Asymptomatic carriers do not know they are threatening others’ lives. If we don’t all learn to be a little less self-absorbed, we will perish. Be it climate change, or an opportunistic virus, or the poisoning of our water and food supplies, or some other ecological crime against humanity; this is EVERYONE’S problem. If we hoard, if we are careless about distancing, or about our hygiene, then we not only condemn the people we don’t know (many entrusted with our well-being), but we also condemn the people we love.
I don’t pretend to have the answers to this. I have my unsolicited opinions, which I post in this report. It’s complicated, and the rules change every day. We were trapped in a hurricane of divisiveness and hatred before this pandemic exploded. Now, many of us, from all walks of life, are fearing for our lives. My wildly optimistic hope is that we catch the cosmic “Hail Mary” pass, and that we heed this warning that we are not immune to the laws of nature. Most of all, I hope we come through this crisis a little more apprised of our connection to and responsibility for each other. Call it a universal quid pro quo. We may not like each other, but like family, we’re stuck with each other. Wise up, stay at home if possible, and listen to the healthcare experts. As I now say to myself every morning, try to do more good than harm.
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED