Opinion: The day we Aucklanders entered our seventh week of Covid-induced lockdown, I sat by a lake to nurse a coffee and my tired thoughts under the pretty Spring sky.
A woman wandered the far side of the park with two little dogs, and I watched them absently.
I had no inkling she would soon be the catalyst for this piece…
Lockdowns are exhausting.
I’m tired of partial wages. I’m tired of unfixed maintenance issues. I’m tired of being restricted to the three by six metre house I’d barely moved into when the August 2021 saga began.
What’s that? It’s October?!
Don’t talk to me. I didn’t even get to collect my new bed.
I’m tired of sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I’m tired of cooking on a single stovetop burner. I’m tired of people falling irreparably ill or dying lonely deaths.
I’m tired of not being able to hug my mom, share lunch with my sisters, take a walk without PPE.
I’m tired of people making this all worse.
Humans are the single most distressing factor on our already strained capacity.
Yes, this is a blanket statement. We’re living in a blanket sphere of existence.
The actions of one affect the outcomes for many.
Pause that thought. Back to the woman in the park.
I sipped my coffee, a good four metres back from the pathway. Like me, the woman with the dogs wore no mask in the wide, empty patch of green.
A young, mask-wearing couple strolled down the path towards the lake, and the woman suddenly sprang into action:
“Take your masks off! You don’t have to wear those things. Don’t live in fear! Take off your masks! Just take them off.”
Disclaimer: I am a peaceable person.
I keep my thoughts to myself, I don’t spout opinions, I don’t speak aloud if I can help it (did I mention I’m a high-level introvert?).
I had already decided to stay out of things, but the woman then came over, waving her hand at their departing backs and saying loudly to me,
People are silly to be afraid.”
Justice mode activated.
“They can wear masks if they want to,” I shot back.
If Covid resulted in horrendous disfigurement or repulsive pustules breaking out all over one’s body, would we be so quick to take offense at being asked to wear a mask and keep a distance?
Heck, doctors wear masks every day to operate on our vulnerable, mushy little insides, and no one gets huffy about that.
She then bestowed upon me a baseless rant:
Covid is fake, it’s just flu, the death toll is fudged, the pandemic is an agenda by the NZ government (nevermind the rest of the world) etc.
And she knows this because it’s in the Bible, but she’s never read the Bible, but some Christians told her we’re living in the book of Revelation, so she now knows about the serpent who sent a lizard species to invade our planet millions of years ago.
And they’ve been kidnapping people, and Covid is a hoax to cover up the imminent danger of these reptilian aliens wielding their flu-like weapon in order to force us to live in fear…
“It doesn’t matter what you or I believe.”
I interrupted her tirade (believe me, it got wilder).
“We can agree to disagree. But if someone wants to wear a mask during a pandemic, let them wear a mask. It may be cultural preference, it may be in respect for others, it may be due to personal health concerns…
“It doesn’t matter what they believe. But yelling at them to do things your way isn’t necessary.”
Selfishness and Stupidity.
Two human traits that stand out in this lockdown nightmare.
Too many of us operate from one or both, adding more stress to the already painful weight of our collective predicament.
At the end of the day, no one cares what you believe about Covid, equality, abortion, End Time Lizards, 5-G, or whether the earth is flat or round (stay tuned for more).
No one cares WHAT you believe; they first care HOW you believe it.
Are your beliefs passionate, respectful, open?
Or are they pushy, uncivil, inexorable?
I’m tired of social media being a platform for fear mongering.
I’m tired of people stirring the pot for the hell of it.
I’m tired of seeing people’s suffering made worse by others’ disregard (sneaking into a hospital when you’ve got Covid), greediness (stealing food deliveries to needy families) and downright savagery (punching a 70-yr-old in the face because you were asked to wear a mask in a supermarket).
We have to do better, people.
Worry less about whether Cousin Albert shares your beliefs. Worry more about how you live out your beliefs.
Less beating people on the head with your revelations.
More extending empathy to those who are suffering, grieving, terrified.
Even if their reasons don’t make sense to your beliefs.
Just be kind.
Back to the conversation in the park:
“Where does the Bible say lizards invaded Earth?”
“A lady on the internet said she was abducted by one.”
“But people on the internet also say the Earth is flat.”
“Well obviously the Earth is not flat.”
Have a nice day, Ma’am.
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Emma is an Italian-South African with a New Zealand passport and an international heart. She spent years training student choirs and co-running a puppeteering business, before working for a humanitarian organisation in New Zealand (7 years) and Papua New Guinea (3 years).
Currently a nomad living between various countries and towns, Emma’s deep joy is in writing, music, cooking up an Italian storm, and taking time to listen to people’s stories.