• Eugene McGarrell

COVID-19 shows us who the real heroes are...



...and that includes you.

Is anyone else experiencing sudden bouts of sadness? I don’t mean depression, but just that overwhelming desire to cry for no apparent reason. It comes and it goes as quickly as it arrived. Maybe that’s just me. I wonder.

I get that feeling I have been put into detention for being a very naughty boy.

Our lives have been put on pause. Our routine’s disrupted, our social events cancelled and our way of interacting with the world taken away for a period unspecified. I get that feeling I have been put into detention for being a very naughty boy.

I am very lucky; I can carry on living in a spacious house with a spacious yard and a spacious park to walk around every day. My main concern is avoiding the runners in the park who do not appear to understand the concept of social distancing. But I don’t feel lucky. Despite being able to work from home I feel a loss, a need to grieve.

Having a career in management I look back at the symbols and trappings of leadership. The suit, the tie, the office, the secretarial support, the teams, the coffee runs, the meetings and the so very important issues that needs to be resolved with a very critical project. The symbols that create a sense of self-importance, a sense of indispensability and a sense of grandeur.

Despite being able to work from home I feel a loss, a need to grieve.

Again, maybe that was just me. But I know it wasn’t, I saw it everywhere.

The role play we engaged in every day to reinforce status and importance. Some played the role with grace while others used their power to bully and control. Most of course could be see playing in the space between depending on the context of the moment.

This pandemic has stripped our roles bare. The inconsequential is not needed anymore. Only the essential and critical exist in a time of crisis. Just as the body sends the blood to the critical organs in a moment of threat, so our society exposes the roles that are necessary and places the rest of us on pause.

Only the essential and critical exist in a time of crisis.

So, unless we are front line workers in for example care services, public transport, manufacturing, rubbish collection, food supply, emergency services, pharmacy and energy supply then we are left to ponder the actual importance of our jobs.

And for many of us we have become our jobs. The respect and acknowledgment we receive in our roles quickly dissipates when we are no longer performing in those roles and we are left to consider our sense of worth.

And for many of us we have become our jobs.

Well of course we have worth. But for many we have not been mindful of that worth as a human, a member of society, a family member, a carer and a friend. We have been sold a narrative that our worth lies in the job that we get paid to do. That’s often the first question we are asked at parties, right? But we should really be asking new people we meet, “who are you?” and "what's your story?".

We have been sold a narrative that our worth lies in the job that we get paid to do.

We are not the job that we do. We are what we value, how we support our families, how we connect with our friends, how we support those less fortunate and how we contribute to our local community. And too often we are so busy at work being the “job title” we forget to "be".

And too often we are so busy at work being the “job title” we forget to "be"

So, the pandemic provides an opportunity for us to connect with who we really are. To reflect on how we can be a better family member, a better friend and a better musician or whatever art or hobby we have been putting off. It’s an opportunity we may never get again, and it is an opportunity to create a new version of us.

And as we do this we should reflect on the front line and often poorly paid workers that will continue to show up to deliver the critical services at this time of crisis. We have time to reflect on whether society values these workers enough and that maybe we should make sure their essential and critical nature of their roles is matched with their level of pay.

On Friday 3 April at 7 pm we have an opportunity to applaud these heroes. Wherever you are, at home, on your porch, in your garden or at the supermarket just stop and give our critical workers the applause they deserve. It is the least they deserve as they risk their health and the health of their families to keep essentials services running. Our gratitude should be shown on Friday but it should also be recognised in status and in pay.

On Friday 3 April at 7 pm we have an opportunity to applaud these heroes.

And let’s use this acknowledgement to reinforce our own value in this world. We are who we are, and that is whoever we want that to be.

Maybe I am being a little sentimental? Oh well, I hope that does no harm.



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