Working together

Megan Walchuk

We’re all in this together.

It’s become a mantra of sorts, since COVID-19 made its way into our lives. On billboards, e-mail sign-offs, pep-talks over Facebook. It’s an acknowledgement that we’re all weary, stressed and tired. That none of us knows how this story will end. That we all feel helpless and vulnerable.
Today, as we celebrate International Day of Pink in the era of COVID-19, the phrase takes on a special meaning. It’s a sobering reminder that despite all of our differences, people are people. We are one human race, united in a common cause, to flatten our curve. To protect our weakest and most vulnerable. To do our part.

The International Day of Pink movement grew from a day at school, when a boy was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia. Upset by what they saw, fellow students David Shepherd and Travis Price organized a show of solidarity, by getting everyone at their school to wear pink the following day. The event has since spread across the country, and inspired an international movement, with millions donning a pink shirt each year on April 8.

On Day of Pink, we think about all the kids who suffer at the hands of a bully, and segments who feel marginalized, due to their sexuality, gender, race, age or ability. The differences between us seemed trivial before COVID-19. Now, focusing on what divides us takes valuable attention from the work that needs to be done. It’s not that we’ve taken our focus off our marginalized people. In fact, we’ve become more aware of them than ever.

The elderly, the lonely, the disabled, the medically fragile, the homeless. There was a time many assumed they were someone else’s responsibility. But now, we are acutely aware, they are our collective responsibility. Keeping them safe helps us all, by keeping everyone healthy and out of the hospital. We need to check on our isolated neighbours. Drop supplies for those who can’t go out. Donate our extra cash and supplies to food banks. When we’re not doing these essential chores for ourselves and others, we need to stay home. Limit our risky behaviours, to ease the strain on first responders. This new normal has altered our life – Easter will look vastly different this year. Families can’t shop together. Playgrounds and schools are empty. Backyard fire pits can’t be lit. Distant camps and cabins can’t be opened. Annual events we’ve come to love over the years are cancelled or postponed.

These are sacrifices, but they aren’t made in vain. Every time we wash our hands, help a fragile neighbour stay in, or limit our own movements, we take strain off our medical system and we save the lives of people in our community.

Whether we’re donning pink shirts, or working to flatten the curve, be proud that your actions, however small, do make a difference. We all have our little part to play, because we ARE all in this together.