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COLUMN: The world is changing — in some ways for the better

At the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely some things will be different

The world is changing.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have closed their doors. Staff at grocery stores are wearing latex gloves and people passing each other on the streets are giving each other plenty of space.

It’s a far cry from a couple of weeks ago, when many of us viewed COVID-19 as a problem in other parts of the world, but not here.

Even a week ago, some of us thought this would be a minor disruption and after a couple of weeks of being housebound, life would go back to normal.

It’s different now.

The world is changing.

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None of us know how long the social distancing measures will remain in place.

None of us know when — not if — further restrictions will be added.

None of us know if life will ever return to the way it was before the pandemic hit.

This is not to say the social distancing and self-isolation will continue indefinitely, however at the same time, none of us know how long it will last.

At the end of this pandemic, it’s likely some things will be different.

The world is changing.

We have seen some of the worst behaviour as a result of this pandemic. And we have seen some of the best of humanity.

Some people have been hoarding meat, dry foods, cleaning supplies and toilet paper, resulting in temporary shortages at some stores.

Some have ignored the repeated pleas and directives to practice social distancing, and as a result, they have put many others at risk for the virus. For someone in poor health or with a compromised immune system, the virus could be deadly.

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What’s more, some have used this pandemic as an opportunity to develop new scams or to find ways to profit from a global crisis.

But at the same time, there are also many positive and inspiring changes happening as a result of this pandemic.

This time of social distancing and self-isolation is a rare opportunity to re-evaluate priorities and consider the things we value the most. It’s a time for reflection and contemplation.

This is a time when some will take comfort in faith during a tumultuous present and an uncertain future.

Later, when the present turmoil has subsided, the world will emerge changed.

After days, weeks or even months of social distancing, even the most introverted will have a new appreciation for a crowded room, a bustling street or a noisy festival.

After holding conversations at a distance, enjoying drinks or a dinner with friends will be an experience to be savoured and treasured.

After communicating by telephone, video chat or text messages, a face-to-face conversation will take on a new meaning.

After wondering if stores will have enough bread, meat, toilet paper or other supplies, and after seeing empty shelves at some stores, it will be difficult if not impossible to ever again take for granted a quick shopping trip.

After the time spent longing for human contact, it’s possible our conversations in the future will take on a better tone.

And after wondering if we would ever again see some family members or friends, each interaction will be something to treasure and cherish.

What happens next remains to be seen.

It’s up to us whether future generations will associate COVID-19 with hoarding and inconsiderate behaviour, or whether this pandemic will be seen as a time when we as a society learned to appreciate each other in a way we had not fully done before.

The world is changing. How it changes is in our hands.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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