|Downtown Fredericton, New Brunswick|
Empty are the elm tree lined streets of Fredericton where the only sound is the wind, at times, shrill like a wartime London air raid siren. Unlit storefronts, empty mud parking lots, deserted Victorian houses converted into government offices, and a silent Saturday morning market is all that remains of this once bustling college town.
These March gusts portended an enemy invasion of my hometown: COVID-19. This infectious interloper arrived one, otherwise, ordinary day. Even here in this tiny township, the coronavirus has breached our defences and attacked two people on the university campus, where red brick Georgian architecture took hold and never let go.
I still have a job, still get paid, but I know so many people around me who have no money coming in because their job is gone, as one business after another is shut down by the insidious onslaught of this horribly virulent intruder. Everyone needs a job and has financial obligations to meet. I really feel for the unemployed, and if this goes on too long, I may be joining their ranks. These are times of fear and economic devastation not seen since the Great Depression. I now understand my great uncle Arthur's distrust of banks, his avoidance of debt of any kind and paying for everything in cash. The Great Depression scarred him forever.
We all know the real threat of COVID-19 is more than just economic, it threatens our lives. It's all to easy to slide into a state of fear and paranoia that brings out the worst in all of us like hoarding and snitching on neighbours. We may lose our jobs, money and endure calamitous financial hardships, but more important is our health and protecting the lives of loved ones, yours and mine. We must be vigilant in maintaining social isolation from others, washing our hands and all the health recommendations from our government's public health branch.
|British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, May 13th, 1940.|
But, most of all, we must remember that we will get through this. There will be better days ahead. In this time, I often think about Winston Churchill during WWII and his absolute refusal to surrender to his own fears, but insisted that the heinous pestilence Hitler represented would be defeated. In WWII there were no winners in terms of human suffering. All civilian populations of Europe suffered horribly, whether they be German, French, British or whoever. London was bombed with terrible consequences, but so too were the Germans (e.g. Dresden '45), the Japanese (e.g. Hiroshima & Nagasaki, 1945), and everyone else held in the cruel grip of war. But, all those nations rebuilt and while many died, many survived and lived to see another day.
On May 13th, 1940, Winston Churchill addressed the wartime House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:
"We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be."
You and I also have to wage war against COVID-19 by sea, land and air. Do your best and remember Churchill persevered because he would never surrender. You and I must do the same!