A 1959 reminder to wash your hands. Alberta Department of Health

A 1959 reminder to wash your hands. Alberta Department of Health

The silver lining, one year later

Looking back and forward after a year of pandemic

About a year ago, I wrote a column about the scary times that were to come and the once-in-a-lifetime chance we had to rethink the way our world works.

In a lot of ways, the world of March 2020 was a very different world than the one we’re in now. So many of the last year’s defining moments had not happened yet. Donald Trump was still in the White House and had only been impeached once. Oil prices had yet to go into the negative, the skies had not turned blood red with wildfire smoke (in this hemisphere at least), Mi’kmaq fishers had not been under attack, the dispute around fish farms in the Discovery Islands had no resolution, we had not been bitterly divided along ideological lines and a group of insurgents had not stormed the US Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow a democracy.

It has been quite a year.

Last year, I said COVID-19 felt like wartime. In retrospect, I’m not so sure that was a great metaphor. Now I think the pandemic acted more like a spotlight, showing every aspect of our lives in sharp relief and detail. While much of that is the parts of us that we’d like to keep hidden, it has also showed a lot of humanity’s potential to make the world a better place.

The issues that came up over the past year are not new. They did not just appear out of nowhere. The way inequality has persisted for hundreds of years, the racism that is systemic in the way our society is built, and decades of inaction on the climate crisis have all led to the world we’re in today. They also will not just go away when (or if) ever the pandemic is over. Getting out of this in a way that benefits us all is be a big task, but I think we can do it.

One thing I’ll repeat from my 2020 missive is this: we have the chance to rebuild our world the way we want it. The travesties that occurred over the last year are all lessons for us. We need to diversify our economy to not be reliant on one or two commodities, we need to stop allowing ourselves to be divided by partisan values, we need to actively stamp out racism and never be complacent to it, we need to make slowing the climate crisis our first priority, and we need to treat everybody with the respect they automatically deserve for just being a human being.

I will add that we can’t do this with half-measures. We need to go all-in on creating a new world with large scale planning, collective action and building in resilience so that when systems fail we are not left in the lurch again. We’ve already started, but we need to do much more.

We can’t continue to do things as we always have, because like it or not, things are going to change. Whether it is by unnatural weather disasters that damage our homes, or partisan divides that act as a wedge in our communities, or growing class inequality that was exacerbated by the pandemic, these things are not going to go away unless we do something about it. We can make that change a good one, or let it be a bad one.

It’s up to us.

RELATED: The COVID-19 silver lining: a new deal for everyone

Oil too risky to be base for economy


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverColumnistCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some bystanders with fire extinguishers helped keep the fire under control. Photo courtesy Suzie Thomas
Bystanders keep fire from spreading near McIvor Lake turnoff

‘Just be vigilant and careful,’ says Campbell River fire chief

The Pier Street Farmers Market will once again take up residence on Sundays from May to Septmber at the parking lot across from the Community Centre in downtown Campbell River for 2021. Mirror File Photo
Pier Street Farmers Market returns to Cedar Street parking lot for 2021

…and it’s hoped that the addition of artisans this year will make it even better

Some recommendations from the Downtown Safety Select Committee have been approved by Campbell River City Council, including removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Council going ahead with removing Spirit Square stage covering

But mayor acknowledges need for ‘welcoming, warm place with support services’

A small fire on North Rendezvous Island is the first wildfire of the season in the Campbell River area. Officials are asking people to take caution when burning during these dry conditions. BC Wildfire Dashboard
‘Conditions are tricky at the moment’ warns Coastal Fire Centre

Small fire on North Rendezvous Island first of the season for Campbell River area

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read