The pain hurt.
By not as much as the bystanders. Those who looked on and saw, but did not act. They saw the tears, they witnessed what was happening. But turned away.
And. Did. Nothing.
The wounds, I’m told, could’ve been worse
“…you’ll just make things worse by continually bringing this up. Suck it up and move on for the greater good.” That was the “helpful” counsel received. With those words, I was forced to go on my way. I slipped on my mask, too heavy to bear.
The pain hurt.
But to not be taken seriously, that was what killed me.
There are three things that prompted my short story above:
- Current world events surrounding COVID-19 restrictions and blindspots.
- A scripture passage I read in Jeremiah.
- About a dozen people I’ve talked to who’ve suffered quietly for way too long, unheard and silenced.
A few years ago, I spoke to a woman who had been a victim of sexual abuse throughout her childhood. As we talked it became clear that she had amazingly moved past the tragedy and even forgiven her perpetrator. However, there was still so much anger she felt towards her past church and certain family members that I was surprised to see, considering her ability to forgive this other man.
When I asked her about why she thought that she had been able to forgive this man who did unspeakable things to her, but couldn’t forgive the people who had done nothing, this was her response:
“In the world we come to expect bad things from bad people. It’s just broken like that. But when good people, people you love and trust, stand by and let evil happen – that can completely ruin you forever.”
When good people are indifferent to evil, the world loses hope.
We seem to understand mental health today better than ever before. And yet never before has our world been so indifferent and unsympathetic to this REAL pain of loneliness many are facing. These stories are going unheard in the media’s push to focus on COVID-19.
Never before have we tried so valiantly to brush it aside. The mental health crisis and current loneliness people are feeling right now are real issues. IMPORTANT ISSUES. Issues, that if not addressed, may become fatal without us even noticing it.
Yet, I sometimes wonder if our world has forgotten this. In our struggle to “stay alive” and keep as many vulnerable people safe from Covid-19 as possible, we’ve denied ourselves of a human NEED: social interaction.
The anger and frustration many people are feeling isn’t just from being “entitled, selfish humans” but a direct result of denying themselves of a basic human need when they could not see any difference being made.
We shut down everything for months. We were told it was to be temporary, to “flatten the curve”.
And we did.
The curve not only flattened, it plummeted. In fact for a whole month in my area there were “zero” cases. That was after four months of shut down.
But life can’t stay shut down forever. We know this, don’t we??
Fast forward eight months later, I rarely see anyone out and about without a mask anymore. Church isn’t even church, we stick to our own family and seem miles away from anyone else. Yet cases continue to rise and one begins to wonder: Are all our efforts even doing anything?
Those who’ve lived in isolation, continually glued to their screens are still blaming it all on “careless” people, becoming hard and judgemental. Reporting neighbours with visitors. Harshly judging others without hearing the story behind these gatherings.
Can we consider this for a second… That not since World War II have people been so willing to call in their neighbours for having company over?
Who are we becoming? What are we doing?
I was all on board with closing down businesses and restaurants back in spring, willingly going along with the plan to “flatten the curve.” Orders to shut down gatherings and religious ceremonies were obeyed wholeheartedly. Closing schools for “three weeks” which turned into “three months” which morphed into summer vacation, we all agreed and followed – without question.
Even with wearing masks inside buildings, most people obeyed, though some did question the usefulness of them. We listened because we could see the heart behind this and knew it was the government doing their best to take steps to not overwhelm our healthcare system.
These were important things.
But calling on citizens to tell on their neighbours for having people down? That is a line I am unwilling to cross.
This is a call from the government that is absolutely alarming to me, one that we should all take a serious look at. If we are indeed, so “concerned”, Why not ask our neighbors about the reason for their gathering? Why not send a text?
Because those telling on others are cowards.
They’re cowards! It’s easy to anonymously “call-in” and tell. But to have an awkward conversation to get the full story, that’s hard! It takes effort.
We have equated normal social interaction, with willingly bringing harm on those around us and it cannot be treated the same.
If a person meets with a friend to encourage them and unknowingly passes on Covid… and say, this friend dies as a result, are we seriously equating that with murder?
Most would say absolutely not!
Yet the government of Manitoba is coming out with a commercial that is saying just that. They have taken a man’s real life story and exploited him to spread a message of fear. He lived a normal life and as a result had a loved one die of COVID-19 and they are making an advertisement out of it.
This young man was NOT responsible for the death of his grandmother.
Viruses are out of our control. We have never been able to control a virus before and this is the first our world has literally believed we could outsmart a virus.
This illusion of control is killing us! It’s ruining us. It’s tearing apart families and neighbors.
“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14
We have some very lonely people and some very serious wounds we are facing. It’s time we address them instead of shaming people and ignoring their needs. I believe it’s only a matter of time with all the pent up anger and division before we may face riots and civil war that will look much worse than any virus.
Living behind plexiglass barriers, masks and meeting on FaceTime chats for a year isn’t normal.
Let’s not try to pretend as if it is.