Dear Readers - Here’s a relationship issue being brought to attention almost daily by the pandemic: Anger.
Knee-jerk reactions and indignant judgment have become common chat among the bored and irritable.
And, no surprise, anger sours social media in these tense times of wondering when our lives can again include camaraderie, family gatherings and outdoor activities.
Anger lives within our new normal, and it’s not only natural, it’s useful.
You want to see true anger, watch a video clip of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a month into his bout with the virus, sweat dripping from his brow, as he attack-questioned his brother Andrew, Governor of New York.
He asks, doubts, dismisses and scoffs, about how the hell anyone can “open up the economy” - with people going back to work - without the facts of surge, spread and curve of the coronavirus known and understood through adequate numbers of tests for infection.
Hopefully, that anger in enough people in positions to demand change, in Canada as well as the US and other countries, is useful anger.
On the personal level, anger can be cathartic. So many people are doing their best to protect themselves and their families from getting sick, that they persevere in doing what isn’t easy.
They stick to the rules - maybe one walk a day, six feet apart from others, knowing that warmer spring days will be unbearably tempting, that their teenagers will be impossibly restless, that the youngsters will get crankier.
(One pyjama-clad two-year-old who used to be taken to day care in the morning, now goes to her family’s front door and asks her parents, “Clothes?” In her confusion, she too, is upset.)
Hard to bear.
Yet bear it we must, and ranting angrily at each other and/or over small stuff just makes it tougher.
Here’s what one person wrote me in an email exchange between us, after he vented about something I wrote for which I corrected myself, explained plus apologized for it.
The response I received: “I'm terribly sorry for the accusatory and hurtful way I wrote to you. I’d never have spoken to anyone like that in real life… I have never liked the version of myself that exists online.”
That person showed me the best and worst of what social media can reveal. The frustration of the times and the anonymity of the writer allowed venom to rise to the top.
Good for him for taking ownership of unnecessary, wasted anger.
Especially when so many people carry unremitting anger, having learned the awful truth of how their elderly and/or disabled relatives suffered and died in some long-term care and nursing homes where COVID-19 raged due to inadequate care, equipment and staff to fight it.
Whether it’s soon, or later, we’ll all have to adapt again to a “new-normal-plus,” when medical/public health officials, scientists and political leaders decide is the right time for trying to “open up” for business.
Maybe seniors will have longer stay-home orders - frustrating but perhaps essential to avoiding more deaths.
Maybe “groups” will still have to be kept to a number that can be spaced - not hundreds jammed in a sports stadium to keep the money flowing, and risk exposing us again to the virus explosion that occurred after meetings, conferences and March-break beach parties were held in the US and elsewhere.
Maybe we’ll have learned that anger alone isn’t solving the virus crisis.
FEEDBACK Regarding the April 11 column mentioned above:
Reader – “The writer is obviously not taking social distancing and staying home at all seriously. She still plans to be social, make family visits and visit the grocery store unnecessarily. It's all about her.
“Only one person needs to shop for food so if the daughter is offering to pick up groceries she’s trying to suggest that mom, who is "active, fit, social" and in "demanding volunteer positions," should STAY HOME.
“Same with mom wanting to be at Sunday dinner.
“Mom doesn't get it! How unfortunate! How self-centred!
“Stay Home - be safe. Protect others.
“ It has nothing to do with getting older - but perhaps is a reflection that she’s definitely getting dumber.
“I'm obviously angry with people who aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously.”
Ellie - That woman’s children were quickly waking her up to reality. Hopefully, the feedback-writer recognizes that her anger was wasted energy.
Tip of the day:
Save your energy for staying well and managing through stay-home orders until the time for change is as safe and informed as possible.