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Instead of noticing a tree I’m standing next to in an incredible shade of red, I’m staring down at my phone fretting over the latest COVID-19 stats.

Compassion: Is it just too off-brand for 2020?

in Opinion by
Instead of noticing a tree I’m standing next to in an incredible shade of red, I’m staring down at my phone fretting over the latest COVID-19 stats.

Normally I love the fall season. The beautiful colours, the different sights and sounds, the changes in the beautiful area that I am blessed to call home.

But there’s been too much change and upheaval for my taste in the last seven months. I find myself distracted from some natural rhythms that were hitherto hardwired.

Trevor Hutchinson, contributing editor.

Instead of noticing a tree I’m standing next to in an incredible shade of red, I’m staring down at my phone fretting over the latest COVID-19 stats.

Some days, if it weren’t for some amazing local photographers that I follow on Twitter, I could be described as unaware of my physical surroundings.

Instead of vicariously reliving the excitement of going back to school through my kids, I am worried about wellness checks and the government’s double-speak on overcrowded classrooms.

I know I am not alone. I can see it in the eyes of every parent I know, in the faces of every business owner I talk to.

Some of us are drinking too much. Some of us are having mental health challenges. Some of us are isolated, angry, fearful or broke.

Sure, I know some introverted friends who started baking or sewing in mid-March and haven’t looked back.

But that’s not me, nor most people I talk to. (Shamefully, I have used exactly two cups of the five kilograms of flour I bought during the great flour shortage of April 2020.)

The non-COVID news hasn’t been helping: The impending climate crisis; the dumpster fire that is U.S. politics; the hyper-partisan political and cultural wars. It’s all just so exhausting.

To be clear, I am not complaining. Because of my privilege (and a bit of luck, touch wood) my family is doing okay, for which I give daily thanks. Like most people we are adjusting to the new normal the best we can.

But it is clearly an emotional time. And now, more than ever, there are certain parties and politicians who are trying to appeal to my emotions.

I’m being asked to help take Canada back. I’m being asked to get emotional over a statue or to care for a pipeline over our ecosystem. I am being asked to join an “us” to fight a “them.”

With the meme-ification of political discourse, I am being pitched values like they were some new fangled chopping device, “as seen on T.V.!”

But the last thing I need is more emotion. I don’t need to be soothed with vague promises of nationalism.

No problem is going to be solved by convincing me to hate another politician.

I need the hate-filled echo-chambers that pass for politics to be replaced by informed, compassionate and inclusive discussion and debate.

Sadly though, that may be too off-brand for 2020.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.

1 Comment

  1. No, Trevor, not too off-brand (as I’m sure you’re suggesting with the question). It’s dangerous to think we are going through something unique. Previous generations, and societies in places other than our Canadian (CKL) bubble, have dealt with or are dealing with, far greater, more complicated, or more layered issues than we are now. We can learn from them. For one thing, we know historically that when life is shaken up, there are increased efforts to ramp up “us vs them” and conspiracy thinking and pointing fingers at someone– anyone –for our problems. But “informed, compassionate and inclusive discussion and debate” is always needed, and always in style.

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