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StephenVance 270Recently a friend of mine posted on social media that 2020 has been the worst year in his lifetime, and he went on to share a laundry list of all of the things he felt have been horrible about this strange year. While I couldn't disagree with the post, it did cause me to do some reflection, and to search for some silver linings.

It is true, as my friend noted in his Facebook post, that 2020, the year of COVID-19, has brought with it a dreary list of impacts. From the economy, to long-term care centres, to the debate about what to do about returning our kids to school, every direction we turn we are bombarded with depressing and sometimes infuriating stories and shared experiences.

As a result, most of us are tired, depressed, and on edge. We're on tenterhooks, as my grandmother used to say when I was young, an expression I didn't truly understand until years later when I started working in the textile industry, but it is certainly an apt expression for what many of us are experiencing in 2020.

Earlier this year I wrote an editorial that suggested that 2020 might very well end up being remembered for all of the things that we couldn't do. Restrictions imposed on social gatherings have meant that weddings, funerals, and any other occasions that would normally see us gather in large numbers have been stripped down to small, intimate family gatherings if they have taken place at all. Many of our favourite annual events have been postponed or cancelled; even the Olympics, the world's largest athletic competition, has fallen to the year of the pandemic.

If all of the horribly negative impacts of this virus have not been enough, we have also seen at times nasty debates and even public arguments filled with angst and vitriol over issues as simple as to whether we should wear face coverings or not. With many on edge, fuses are short, and arguments are quick to develop even among those who might not otherwise engage in such behaviour.

As you can see, my friend wasn't necessarily wrong when he suggested that this has been the worst year in our collective lifetimes, however we've also seen some bright lights, some shining examples of the best of humanity throughout this crisis.

This pandemic has seen the 'caremongering' movement grow, arriving in this community early in the crisis. And it isn't just neighbours helping neighbours, it's strangers helping strangers. The 'caremongering' movement has seen people sharing their skills or simply their time to offer assistance to others, whether it be picking up some groceries, or cutting a lawn. In a year when we have been bombarded with negativity, seeing members of your community helping each other out serves as a reminder that we are all in this together, and it provides some hope for the weeks, months, and years to come.

Another silver lining to be found in this horrible year of 2020, for me at least, is that we're pretty darned lucky to live where we do. Canada has fared well throughout this global crisis compared to many other nations. Yes we've had our pitfalls, and we've made some mistakes, but this pandemic has been a new experience for all, including our governments and our experts. In our lifetimes we haven't seen a global health crisis turn into a global economic crisis, and all we need to do is look at the data in order to feel some comfort in how we as a nation have handled this pandemic.

Locally we have fared even better. The most recent data tells us that Meaford has seen just six cases of the virus, and we have had no deaths. In the whole of Grey and Bruce counties we have seen just 127 residents test positive for the virus, and as I type these words we have just six active cases in the two counties. Our government leaders at all levels have communicated well, and the virus has largely avoided politicization. Add to that the fact that we are fortunate in this country to have universal healthcare, which ensures all that treatment is readily available should we have the misfortune to contract the virus. No matter how you look at it, compared to many parts of the world we have fared well thus far in this pandemic.

One other silver lining worth noting locally is that while this pandemic has disrupted our lives, has cost some of us our livelihoods, and has turned our daily routine on its head, through it all, Meaford has been a pretty busy place. Though there was a brief halt to construction, both our new library and new school builds continue to move forward, and the rehabilitation of the Trowbridge Street bridge is well underway. Those major projects aside, new homes are being built throughout the municipality, and despite this pandemic, this community has continued to move forward and will continue to do so once this pandemic is finally over.

While it could be argued that these silver linings that I have mentioned don't necessarily cancel all of the negatives we've been juggling these past six months, I would counter that when this COVID-19 crisis is over and we have returned to something resembling normalcy, those silver linings I have discussed above will still be with us, because they have always been with us; sometimes it takes a crisis to draw them out or to see them clearly.


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