Pandemic of Hope
The Pandemic...Just saying that word evokes imagery from Hollywood science fiction and conspiracy theories dating back to the Cold War. Yet, here we are, in 2020, dealing with a Global Health Crisis as a result of a rapidly spreading Coronavirus, the likes of which our world wasn't prepared for. So unprepared are we, that the entire planet has had to shut down to stem the tsunami of death that will occur if we don't slow the transmission of this virus. While front line workers provide care and aid to those most at risk, scientists are racing to create a vaccine, and world leaders are trying to mitigate the fallout from this crisis. It can be easy to dwell on the negative aspects of this history-altering event. At Dare To Care, we have always maintained that, while we acknowledge what is negative, we instead try to focus and promote the positives. Whether we speak to a group of parents, teachers, students or teammates, the fundamentals are to create a culture of kindness and caring. This Pandemic should be no different. Our daily activities and the way we approach them are currently drastically different than what they were five weeks ago, but the Golden Rule, as we say, still applies. Treat others how you wish to be treated, whether it is in your own home, at a grocery store, or with your child's teacher, as they too have to adapt their plan to something that was totally unforeseen when they began the school year. Everyone deserves kindness, compassion, and respect. Everyone has a story. Especially now. From the grocery store clerk to your neighbour to the front line health care workers. Everyone has a different capacity to handle stress and isolation, let alone the fear of a global pandemic
In an unrelenting display of the human condition, every day, we see acts that demonstrate our goodness as a species. People are buying groceries for elderly neighbours. Fire Trucks making surprise visits by children's homes on their birthdays. Chorus' of strangers singing to the top of their lungs on balconies in Italy to lift each other up. Every day, people challenge and connect with strangers on their walks, waiting in line at Costco, and on social media. Everywhere you turn and look, as the virus spreads, so too are acts of kindness. These acts are authentic and organic. These acts are local, and they are global. These acts are appreciated. We may not kill Covid with kindness, but we can surely inspire and empower future generations with the acts of today. If the Pandemic has been sent to break our collective spirit, it has failed in that regard thus far. When faced with the most unprecedented, traumatic, yet unifying world event in modern history, human beings around our globe have DECIDED to choose kindness above all else. In a twist of irony that would make Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet proud, when asked, forced, and legislated to remain apart and isolated, we have never made more effort and created more opportunities to stay connected together. Children are playing again in their yards, neighbors are meeting for the first time, from a distance of course, and people are exploring their neighborhoods like never before.
Will we do this when the world returns to normal? When children are allowed to play together again, and the whistle blows for the start of the next game? Can we still move forward with the same warmth that we have managed to harness during this Pandemic? We will always have elderly neighbours needing assistance, and there will be children playing alone in the schoolyard, we will see someone that looks like they've had a rough day, without knowing their circumstances. Will we have our children take a moment in their day to write a kind note, do a good deed or pray for those outside their sphere? Can we carry forward the lessons we are learning and the kindness we are practicing? Or will we return to what was the status quo?
When we speak at schools, the Dare To Care team often has a huge impact on the school community. We receive rave reviews from students, staff and volunteers. There's a massive feeling of positivity in a school after our presentations. Frequently we are the talk of the school days after we've left. And there is a genuine desire for change. But we are not change. We offer tools for change, but sadly we are not the change that people wish for. Change is a function of choice; the choice to act differently tomorrow than how things were yesterday. That change comes from the school, workplace, or sports team we connect with. Similarly, the global Covid-19 Pandemic is significant and impactful. Humans are generally acting the way most would hope for in the circumstances such as these. There are more acts of kindness, humility, gratitude and compassion. People are going out of their way to do good and model goodness, and it shows. As we say at Dare To Care, everyone has a story. This Pandemic has profoundly affected every human being on the planet. In a matter of four weeks, EVERYONE's story has changed... Is it true change? Not yet. Change will happen when the same people who have DECIDED that doing good, acting kindly, showing compassion, and looking out for those beyond themselves, is as important during NON Covid times as it is during the Covid Pandemic. Then we will see change. True change. So the real question is, do we have it in us? Well, judging how we are reacting during this time of anxiety, stress, isolation, discomfort and fear, our actions are showing tremendous potential for hope. During this Pandemic, HOPE is our greatest strength.
Randy Chevrier is Bully Prevention Ambassador for Dare To Care. He has travelled across Canada on behalf of Dare to Care, helping to impact school communities positively. A three Time Grey Cup Champion in the Canadian Football League, Randy is also a father of three boys, holds a Bachelors in Education and is a full-time firefighter with the City of Calgary.