Fire Fighting in Canada

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Comment: The case for kindness

June 3, 2020 
By Laura Aiken

Dear pandemic diary:

It’s day I’m-not-sure — time has taken on a strange and surreal monotony. Perhaps time in the clock of physical distancing ticks at the pace of my wilting patience. I am growing weary of an enemy I cannot see, hear or smell. The odds are stacked against me such that I must put layers of space and high-tech equipment between me and all my interactions with the world outside my home. I am exhausting my reserves of vigilance, but am quite aware this is no time to shed defenses. Oh SARS-CoV-2, it’s been a crisis knowing you and we are all looking forward to your (not near imminent enough) end. Signed, The People.

Perhaps this sentiment resonates with you — or perhaps not. COVID-19 has created a paradox in solidarity, where we are collectively united but distinct in our experience, seperated by circumstance. Whether you are young, middle-aged, old, wealthy, fair-to-middling or poor; whether you are single or married, have children or not, suffer from any pre-existing ailments; whether you are in the fire service, a grocery clerk, unemployed, employed at home or work in a hospital; where you live — all of these descriptors tell individual narratives. While we are all in this together, we are not living the same story — we are a library. If this is an unprecedented time, let it also be an unprecedented awakening of empathy and kindness, of non-judgmental approach, and a deep humbling as the pandemic, magnifying glass poised, exposes the inequalities of our collective.

I have always been fond of the saying “everyone has a story” as a reminder to practice kindness and respect because you don’t know what difficulties someone may be facing. For every adult that walks past, so also walks a childhood. Reactions to this pandemic will be as personal as pain is subjective. Some people are doing pretty peachy, stitching together silver linings like an elaborate quilt. And others are becoming sick by the very act of avoiding the sickness, by the stress and isolation. Fears of an impending tsunami of mental illness abound, but so do stories of positivity and levity. Humans are very resilient creatures.


Now is the time for alliances and sensitivity. Self-care. Peer-care. I have seen countless acts of kindness from fire departments, individuals, companies…this pandemic has brought out the kindness in so many. Witnessing that generosity helps us remember we are part of the library, not a story cast aside. Be kinder than you have ever been in your life. Someone you know needs it, and that someone could be you.

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