I’ve been struggling. Hard. Lately, my struggles have been with how inconsistent the restrictions and rules have been in regards to COVID-19 protocols. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Granted, I know how incredibly difficult it is for everyone. No one has ever dealt with this before. No one knows what the “right” path forward is, because no one in our lifetime has dealt with a pandemic of this magnitude.. ever.
I get why people are frustrated with government, with leaders. We’re looking to them for direction. We’re looking to them to make things consistent and fair. We’re looking to them to do the “right” thing. We’re looking to them to force people to do the “right” thing. But I don’t think we’ll ever get that. Because if we’re completely honest, there isn’t one “right” way to go about it.
If things stay exactly the way they are, numbers are going to keep going up. Some people are going to continue thinking, “I’m going to keep doing A, B, and C anyways because the rules are inconsistent, so why should I even try?” If things stay exactly the way they are, a lot of us will continue to struggle in our jobs, in our everyday life. If things stay exactly the way they are, some of us have to make decisions of whether or not we can see vulnerable family members because we might be coming in contact with people who aren’t taking things seriously. Because the reality is, you could be doing it all: wearing a mask, physically distancing, staying home as much as possible, only seeing people in your cohort.. changing your entire life. But all it takes is for one person at the grocery store or at your workplace or at church to not be taking the same precautions seriously to contract COVID-19 and you end up suffering their consequence.
If we go into complete shutdown again, there are businesses that won’t make it to the other side. People will lose their livelihoods. If we go into complete shutdown again, there are people who will be forced into home situations that aren’t safe for them. People could get hurt. If we go into complete shutdown again, there are consequences. Some of us can’t handle another shutdown. Whether it’s for physical, mental, or emotional reasons.. It’s all too much.
So, there’s really no one right way to handle this. There will be losses: there is no winning. There is no clear path forward. And to be honest, I don’t envy anyone who has to make decisions for large groups of people. It’s easy to think that it’s a black and white situation, but not everyone has the same privileges. And that’s what makes this so hard.
Andrel and I have been having a lot of conversations of how to navigate through this thing. We realized our frustrations stem in waiting for someone else to make things consistent and fair for us. But I think that’s the issue at the heart of it all. Some of us are lacking personal responsibility in our spheres of influence.
I stumbled across a post of a local restaurant who announced that they were shutting down their dine-in service. The government hasn’t mandated them to, but they took responsibility for their little corner of the world and put their employees and customers first. It was probably a hard decision to make because who knows if they’ve recovered from the first shutdown.
But they made a decision, a hard decision, to take an inconsistency and make it consistent for themselves. To make sure their personal belief that this pandemic should be taken seriously matched their behaviour. They truly took personal responsibility.
Andrel and I have been trying to create the consistency for ourselves, to take personal responsibility and accountability seriously. Because it has been easier to give in to the inconsistencies. We’re definitely guilty of doing a thing or two because there was a weird loophole. I’ve taken my mask off when I knew I should probably be wearing it. We haven’t done very well with the cohort thing. We’ve definitely been going to spaces with large groups regularly. And I’ve been personally struggling with our incongruent behaviour. So, we’re starting to make some of the hard decisions ourselves. Do I really want to hole up in our house again and see barely anyone? No, not really. Do I really want to isolate for 14 days if we get to fly home to Toronto? Hard no. Do I hate every second of it? Yes, definite yes.
A lot of us aren’t actually taking personal responsibility and accountability seriously. When the Alberta government encouraged personal responsibility instead of a full shutdown again, we defined personal responsibility as the opportunity to keep doing whatever we want, whatever we’re comfortable with, whatever we felt like. And I get why some people are frustrated. They’ve changed their lives drastically in protection of others, while some of us insisted on going back to our old normal. We refused to wear our masks consistently. We started having parties outside of our cohort. We kept gathering in spaces with large groups regularly. We kept going out even if we showed symptoms because we self-diagnosed as a cold. We kept going out even if we came in close contact with someone who has COVID because we aren’t showing symptoms. We decided to continue contributing to the inconsistencies and the chaos.
So, Andrel and I decided that here’s the deal: (1) We know this pandemic is real; (2) We know how incredibly difficult it must be for people in higher positions to make the hard decisions for large groups of people and make things consistent; and (3) We know we have the privilege to make some of the hard decisions for ourselves. So, we’re going to take personal responsibility and accountability. We’re starting to challenge every decision and evaluate if it’s coming from a place of kindness and compassion for others. In the case of COVID-19 restrictions, we ask ourselves: Why am I doing or going to X, Y, or Z? Is it safe for everyone or is it just to make myself feel good? Am I doing what’s best for the people around me or am I doing what only works for me?
If we’re truly striving to live a life of kindness and compassion towards others, then our behaviour and actions have to match.
It’s hard. But I do truly believe it’s one of the only ways we’ll survive this. If we all just governed ourselves and operated from a place of kindness and compassion for others, it wouldn’t matter if the rules are inconsistent. If we all actually took personal responsibility seriously, we wouldn’t need someone with higher authority to tell us what to do. Because every decision we made would be for the health and protection of everyone around us, not just ourselves. We have to make the hard decisions.