How to Respond?

A few months ago, Australia was burning. We saw incredible scenes, from dramatic escapes and heroic actions by firefighters and other emergency services personnel to walls of flame moving faster than anyone could ever believe.

We also saw incredible generosity – of finances, goods, and more than anything else, of spirit. We banded together as a nation in a way that hasn’t been seen for years. Together we felt the pain as people’s houses and livelihoods burned and perished. And then together we pledged to travel with an empty esky, take holidays in burned out places, and place our country and our fellow countrymen before ourselves.

We rejoiced when it began to rain (even though we still need so much more) and put the fires out, and commiserated when some places began to flood. We’ve felt relief as the relentless heat of summer has given way to cooler days. We’ve even, at last, had to mow lawns we’d thought had completely died. A significant chunk of us are still on water restrictions due to the ongoing drought.

But now, with COVID-19 rearing its head, some of us have thrown all of that out the door in the name of panic and selfishness. I wrote a week or so ago about the bizarre obsession with toilet paper that seems to have gripped our nation. So much so, that people who have now run out, are unable to buy even a few rolls. Our daughter’s friend moved states, and it took fourteen (14!) different supermarkets before she was able to buy a roll. I mean, what the heck????? (Yes, superfluous question marks.)

People who have actually run out due to the panic buying, now have to hunt, and then feel embarrassed when they actually buy some, because there are now restrictions on how much you can buy. They feel tarred with the panic brush.

Of course we all understand that the possibility of two weeks of quarantine requires a little planning, but we do live in the world of online shopping and home delivery. But really, how much toilet paper does one family use in two weeks? Every time I’ve shopped, I’ve been astounded that there is no toilet paper, and few tissues, but plenty of medications and heaps of foodstuffs of all varieties.

After the fires, I was very much encouraged by our unity. Now, I’m rather disappointed. I suppose I’d thought we were better than that. We showed so much compassion for our fellow Australians, I think I thought that we’d continue to pull together over the rest of this incredibly complicated and difficult year.

Please, my fellow Australians, let’s try and think beyond ourselves. It really doesn’t matter where we live, we can be kind. We can check on each other, and assist. It appears that COVID-19’s spread amongst the entire community is now a matter of time, rather than anything else, but we can do our best to make that spread slower. We can also make sure that we don’t let our neighbours and friends try to cope in isolation.

Our ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) has a whole news section devoted to all things pandemic. It’s regularly updated. The Australian Government Department of Health has significant information available, here and here.

Above all, follow the best information. Do what it suggests, namely:

Wash your hands for fifteen to twenty seconds, with soap.

Cough or sneeze into an elbow.

Self-isolate as required and requested.

Don’t handshake. Maybe wave, smile, or one of my favourites, use the Vulcan greeting.

But more than anything, don’t be a toilet paper hoarder. 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️

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