By Victoria Sarne
The current restrictions imposed on our movements are frustrating but they are working and are for our protection. We can all agree on that. The best thing to do right now is to accept these circumstances, challenging as they may be.
All of us are vulnerable not just to this virus but to any infections or diseases which show up from time to time. The only way to stop the spread is to do what we have been asked - self-isolating, sanitising and distancing if we are in a public space. This means me, you and everyone, none of us have special powers which might magically act as a shield to protect us.
Doctors and nurses are not exempt from getting COVID19; they may be a relative, friend or neighbour, we need to protect them as they try to do for us. They can’t help you if they are quarantined. We need to settle down and adopt a “take one day at a time” attitude. To calm our anxiety, let’s deal with the here and now, not what may or may not happen tomorrow or the day after. The safety measures we are asked to take are based on scientific/medical evidence. It is reliably predictable that if we do not regulate ourselves in this way, more people will fall ill and the virus will keep circulating for an extended period as long as it can find hosts - that’s us. It’s not picky choosing its victims. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we live.
None of us like having our liberties curtailed or feeling as if we are under house arrest. We expect in a democratic society that we should be able to do what we want, when we want and how we want, even when we have no particular destination in mind or anything specific we’d like to do. We need to have reassurance and certainty that freedom of choice is always ours. We, among others all over the world, are currently unable to do this as voluntary self-isolation has not been adhered to by everyone. It’s a natural reaction for us to feel as if we are prisoners in our own homes. But the key word is “feel”. Instead of “feel” we must employ our brains and think.
If we make the effort, we can control our attitude and feel more comfortable because if none of us are actually incarcerated, the only prison bars I see are the ones in our heads. There was a recent graphic on Facebook of Nelson Mandela with the caption of his very real time served in jail. 27 years! You all know the story and the injustice done to him by locking him up in isolation at Robben Island, yet despite that, when he was released he was neither bitter nor angry.
We are in no way in such dire and unfair circumstances as he was; most of us have food, drink, other necessities of life and are comfortably under a roof, in our normal surroundings. The lesson is that although he was physically incapable of changing his particular circumstance or location he did not allow his mind to be imprisoned, no matter how unjust the punishment. He trained himself to be patient, summoning up courage, tenacity and endurance to enable him to survive his long ordeal one day at a time. His story was one that should have been called a tragedy, yet he never gave it that description, didn’t think of it as time lost. He refused to give up by cultivating the ability to overcome his circumstances, by not succumbing to emotional reactions. That’s where personal power lies, in our brains. So let’s use them.
Our scenario doesn’t even remotely resemble his - for a start we aggravated this problem ourselves by not embracing the restrictions we were asked to accept for our own good. We are in this situation because of the selfishness or thoughtlessness of a few who wrongly assumed that our actions only have consequences for us and affect no-one else. If ever we needed a lesson to show us that we are all connected, like it or not, COVID19 has provided a nasty, sometimes lethal, demonstration. Person to person, community to community, country to country worldwide - and now we have to live with that.
We have far more hope than Mandela must have had initially because we do know that even though this may not be over as quickly as we would like, it will eventually be over if we are patient. The more we think rationally, do what is asked of us and accept each day as it comes, the safer we are. Think - one day at a time - and you will get through it.
• Victoria Sarne is an entrepreneur and writer. She headed a team to establish a shelter for abused women and children in Canada and was its first chairwoman. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.lifelineswritingservice.com or call 467-1178.