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It’s been a few months of shock and awakening as the insidious COVID-19 continues to spread its invisible fingers around the globe and snuffs out dreams and plans, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and leaves fear and confusion in its wake. It’s been an instructive period when we have learnt a lot about the world we live in—and not all of it is good.

First up, we’ve discovered that our world can change in the blink of an eye and crash away under our feet, bringing us down with it. All those plans we had in place this year suddenly just vanished. Business ventures, weddings, travel, family gatherings—most of them have evaporated. It’s difficult to get your head around how massive these changes are. And it’s been reinforced what a global village we will in. What happens in one place affects what happens in another place. We are all connected.

We have learnt, or been reminded, that there resides among us a huge mix of people. There’s a horrid element of those who allow themselves to panic irrationally and turn into selfishly hoarders who are prepared to get into physical altercations over toilet paper in the supermarket aisles. There are other even  worse specimens who have deliberately stripped supermarket shelves far and wide bare of in-demand items so they can deprive people who need them of the items and sell them online at exorbitant prices. It’s heartening that Amazon and others are cracking down on some of these swine and closing their accounts and that some supermarkets are combatting this with interesting pricing strategies.

We have discovered that many, many of us just don’t like to follow sensible guidelines and insist on doing just what we want to do, over-estimating their own fortitude, dismissing the danger and and continuing to endanger others. The scene just a week ago at Bondi Beach was an example. I was incensed to hear of a fellow Canberran this week who was ‘as sick as a dog’ but continued to go to work because they were ‘too busy’ not to. Translated, my immediate desires and needs are the most important thing and I don’t give a flying fig about the rest of you and that if I actually have this virus I could indeed infect 406 people within 30 days and given the current statistics across the world, that means that anywhere between four and 28 people might actually die as a result. Good work, champ!

We have learnt, or been reminded, that the USA is led by a particular kind of dangerous imbecile who spouts rubbish and endangers the country who put him in charge, a man who for weeks insisted this was a hoax and that the virus would disappear soon like a miracle, perhaps with the warm weather, and who is now hoping for packed churches at Easter. Seriously you won’t believe what he says until you see the video for yourself.

Meanwhile our own PM is creating confusion by stating you can’t have a wedding with more than five people, you can’t have a funeral to farewell your loved ones but you can get a haircut to look schmick when you wander around the open shopping centre eating your takeaway sanga and coffee because you can’t sit down at the food court which is still open. To his credit, Scotty from Marketing was this time in the country at the outset of the unfolding disaster and he’s lost his smirk. He’s perhaps trying to show some empathy, but he does get very cross at those pesky journalists when they ask a question he doesn’t like. Like, why are weddings banned but schools are open?

Yes, yes, it’s all very confusing, but the big message is pretty simple: just stay home if you can. Because that’s the safest for you and for everyone else.

Above all, we have learnt that soap and water is a more effective cleaner than alcohol sanitiser (though that’s still good) and that most of us have been washing our hands inadequately all this time. And we’ve learnt that Bunnings and grog shops are essential services.

On a more positive note, importantly we have discovered that this disaster, like all disasters, has brought out the best of many others who have shown their kindness and humanity.

Firstly, enormous thanks and gratitude to the doctor and nurses and other medical staff who are putting their lives on the line day after day, week after week, though sadly many of those are losing those lives in doing so.

Movements of people trying to help others and Good Samaritans are doing kind deeds

Neighbours are delivering cards in their area offering assistance and their phone number

people across Italy are singing from their balconies

online choirs are singing around the world

and museums, galleries and educational organisations across the world are opening their resources for free to keep people occupied and engaged.

This is no doubt an incredibly difficult time we are faced with and will cause untold heartache, but the only way to get through it is together. Take the advice we’re being given seriously and comply with it, because it will save lives. Be kind, lean into others for support, ask for help if you need it, and wherever possible, stay home.

If we’ve learnt anything, hopefully it’s that we have a choice in how we deal with this.

Let’s make the right choices. Let’s concentrate on the positives and try and push the negatives away.

We’ll get through it.