Columnists Katherine Wagner

CITIZEN’S INK: Striving to be a hero during COVID-19 pandemic

Easier to be a hero in short spirts, but we might have to prep for more of a long-term gig

By Katherine Wagner/Special to The News

As someone at high risk from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, I’m currently thinking of myself as a writer-in-residence – while I work on my novel.

There is an adage among fiction writers attempting to create realistic characters: The villain always believes they’re the hero of the story.

Of course, real life people are vastly more complicated than even the most intricately drawn character in a book, but the basic premise holds. Ask anyone who is defying social distancing and other pandemic restrictions and they will likely have a “good” (at least to them) reason (excuse) for their behaviour.

Public emergencies highlight the heroes among us.

During this pandemic, frontline health-care workers, first responders, truckers, flight crews, grocery store workers, and delivery people (not an exhaustive list) are all cape-wearing superheroes.

Few aspire to be a moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash caricature of villainy, but those deliberately attempting to profiteer by hoarding essential safety supplies, then reselling them at an obscene mark-up, come close.

Fortunately, as the seriousness of the situation sinks in, many of these would-be villains have realized it’s not too late for redemption and they’re donating their caches.

Other villains prey on shuttered businesses and vandalize ambulances. The need for security services has risen.

Human nature is predictable and so is the trajectory of this pandemic.

Somehow, we have to collectively deal with the gap and flatten the curve. To achieve this, we all need to strive to act heroically in whatever way we can, but it’s easier to be a hero for short sprints. The challenge we all face is that this may go on for months.

Short term, anyone can improve their hero status by donating to our frontline health care workers. Unneeded, unopened safety supplies such as gloves, surgical masks, and hand sanitizer top the list. Email Fraser Health at safety@fraserhealth.ca.

Those of us with the financial means can find ways to support the local businesses and non-profits hard hit by this crisis.

The threat and uncertainty of the pandemic weighs heavily on all of us.

RECENT COLUMN: Personal responsibility key to mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus

Right now, leaders must be seen to be leading. Citizens need to hear directly from our elected representatives at all levels of government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is helping to amplify urgent messages from health care experts.

His live media briefings from the porch of his Ottawa residence and PSA videos from his kitchen, underscored the message that we are all in this together.

On Sunday, March 22, Trudeau sensed a need and spoke directly to Canada’s children, “…a special thanks to all you kids. Thank you for helping your parents work from home, for sacrificing your usual day, for doing math class around the kitchen table, and for trusting in science. We are going to have more to say to you soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, let’s make sure we all do our part. Let’s fight this together.”

READ MORE: Not time for state of emergency, Trudeau says, but Parliament asked to pass COVID-19 aid

Several weeks later, his message still resonates.

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix are regularly and personally relaying the efforts of the provincial government to protect citizens and the economy.

Being visible and encouraging and reassuring citizens is also an important role for mayors during this crisis.

Simply providing links to resources does not carry the reassurance that direct messaging does.

For example, Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall has been issuing regular messages and videos reinforcing the directives of other government levels and informing citizens about the city’s COVID-19 response.

Neighbours are helping neighbours and reaching out to strangers.

These heroes are using social media groups to connect with those in need.

Stores, restaurants and pharmacies have stepped up with delivery and pick-up services, and special hours for those at risk.

For political and financial profit, villains are attempting to capitalize on our distraction, anxiety and fear in an effort to exploit, scam and sow disinformation.

We all need to be careful to not aid the spread of misinformation.

Please, fact check before sharing social media content. Click through and read what is at the link, rather than sharing based on a headline or a recommendation by a connection. Does the infograph or article reference sources? Is the article posted on a reliable news source? Think about whether the information makes sense. Do a quick google search of the headline or a paragraph or two. Heroes help protect their fellow citizens.

Do what you can to tap into your inner hero.

Connect, support each other, listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Theresa Tam, and follow directives from our governments.

We will get through this.

STAY TUNED: Sign up today for updates on everything you need to know about the coronavirus

.

– Katherine Wagner is a member of the Citizens’ Task Force on Transparency, a former school trustee and member of Golden Ears Writers

.

• If there is more to this story, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows not expecting flooding but is prepared should it happen

City is monitoring rivers upstream and has completed study on evacuation route planning

MRI arrives at Maple Ridge hospital this week

A $5-million diagnostic machine has been bolted into place at Ridge Meadows Hospital

LETTER: A 12-year-old’s poetic tribute to George Floyd

Keena wrote this poem as part of a Grade 7 project

LETTER: Telosky park being treated like a garbage can

Maple Ridge resident upset by the amount of littering found in revamped facilities

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows seniors enjoy outdoor dance party for Seniors Week

Outdoor party held in the parking lot of the Pitt Meadows Seniors Activity Centre

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read