Editorial: How lucky we are
The pandemic has revealed strength in our industry and our communities.
By Patrick Flannery
Looking over the truly inspirational stories in last month’s issue, I’ve been struck ever since by the thought of how lucky we are to live in this country and work in this sector. Considering the blow we’ve been dealt to our ability to carry on business, not to mention our personal routines and even personal health security, I have to say I’m proud of the Canadian reaction.
First of all, people have taken this seriously. We’ve listened to experts, thought and talked about the problems and their solutions and, largely voluntarily, made big sacrifices in our lives and our bank accounts. The great and somewhat amazing thing is, we haven’t done this out of self-interest. We all know that an individual’s chance of dying from COVID-19 is small. For most, it’s like a nasty flu. Most of you reading this are still working age, which means you are younger than the groups most at risk. Yet you made the great effort anyway. You closed your showroom and told customers they had to call ahead for service. You sent valuable workers home. You spent hours scouring counters and equipment. You trained up fast on fancy remote payment software. You damaged your thumbs building plexiglass service windows for your staff. You went blind looking at government websites to find the funds needed to keep the lights on and the workers fed. You donated time and equipment to help out the local health authorities and charities protecting the ill. And through it all, you watched your revenues slow or, in many cases, stop.
Why did we do all this? Because we knew the effort was necessary to protect those most at risk and to preserve our hospital capacity to save as many of them as possible. We took individual hits – some big, some small – for fellow Canadians we don’t know and will never meet. As a country, our intelligence, sense of civic responsibility and common decency has never been on stronger display.
Then there’s how we did it, and I’d say we did it with style. It’s a well-kept secret that Canadians have the best sense of humour in the world. In my many, many conversations over the last few months, I’ve encountered almost no negativity of any kind. People are smiling, laughing and cracking jokes at their own expense about their hair and eating habits on lockdown. They are finding ways to donate and to thank health and essential services workers. They are cheerfully putting up with the vagaries of Zoom and kids blundering into important meetings. There’s been no sense of hysteria or fear in the country; instead I’ve picked up a kind of resigned determination to get on with it and make the best of it. Kind of like the way winter makes us feel every year anyway. The few dissenters and rule-breakers have been tolerated with little more than furrowed brows and the voices criticizing the government response have been listened to respectfully and in some cases even effected change.
Lord help me, I’m even a bit proud of our political leaders. Admittedly, it’s a low bar these days in light of the deadly, divisive, corrupt, incompetent clown show to the south, but I have to give credit to Ottawa and the premiers for having a plan, communicating clearly, acting on expert advice and doing their best to react to a bewildering new set of problems. Mistakes have been made for sure, but by and large I feel like they have been forgivable ones under the circumstances.
Most of all, I think at this time we all can feel lucky to live here in Canada where, for all its warts, we have the strength of society, depth of resources and stability of government to weather this thing. There are places in the world where bodies have piled up in the streets. Instead, here, I think we will very soon be looking at a roaring recovery.