I think, most of the time, we expect tomorrow will be pretty much like today was. This belief in constancy is necessary for our mental well-being and for us to make life plans with a certain degree of predictability.
But then COVID-19 visited our world.
Welcome to a new reality where so much of what we thought was normal has been turned on its head. This is a time where everyone everywhere across the entire world is simultaneously living a bewildering and disjointed new existence.
None of us can say for sure how this experience will shape our shared future. However, I think it is safe to say our world will never be the same. I have been thinking a lot about the events of the last week from a global perspective – was it really just a week ago that it was OK to shake someone’s hand or to sit in a crowded room? As an elected representative of PEI’s Legislature, however, my first duty is to the people who live in this special place.
Governing is hard at the best of times, but during a crisis the challenges get magnified. We are blessed in so many ways here on PEI. One of those ways is that Island politicians have recently developed a new willingness to work together. As Official Opposition, the traditional role our Party would have occupied was one of strong opposition. All too often this opposition would provoke confrontation, hostility and distrust. As I said on Island Morning the other day, during a true crisis, such as the one we face today, there is no time for politics and partisanship. Instead, all elected members must pull together to make the best decisions possible, informed by the best information we can gather and free from the distorted perspectives that placing a political lens on issues all too often creates.
Our good fortune lies in the fact that this is not a dramatic shift from the politics we have been practicing on PEI for almost a year. In a world that so desperately needs all of us to come together, pool our resources, and depend on each other’s selflessness and good nature, the political arena in PEI provides a template for how we can do this. There’s nothing easy about it though. It requires deep levels of trust and respect, ongoing vigilance, and a commitment to personal vulnerability and openness.
When I said the world will never be the same, I didn’t necessarily mean it would be all bad. Without doubt there will be more uncertainty and more suffering before COVID-19 eases back into its place of balance in the biosphere like other infectious diseases. One thing is certain however, we will never again doubt the interconnectedness of everyone and everything on our home – planet Earth.
At some point in the future we will need to ask some big questions, both individually and collectively, about our place here in this beautiful world. However, right now, our place is to stand side by side, gather our resources – political, practical and emotional – and recognize the responsibilities we have to each other. We must embrace this unprecedented challenge together.
We have learned from other places what to do, and what not to do, what works and what does not. There is still much we do not know about this new disease. However, there are a few things we do know for sure. Things like practising social distancing, self-isolation (I prefer quarantine) if that is indicated for you, and hand washing are all proven ways to control the spread. In short – stay home and you will save lives. These lives can be those of your neighbours and friends. For each of us individually it really is that simple – stay home and save lives.
If you have questions about COVID-19, please visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/covid19 or call the provincial general information line at 1-800-958-6400 for the most up-to-date information.
If you are a business owner or manager looking for information on COVID-19 business supports, please call 1-866-222-1751 or email [email protected].
We will get through this together. I wish you health, hope, and peace during this time and always.
Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker
Leader of the Official Opposition