This Version Posted: April 27, 2020
Health Equity Coordinator
HKPR District Health Unit
When I first immigrated to Canada with my family as a young girl, listening to oldies music was some of my first exposure to English. My teachers were singers like Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Joan Baez, and Elvis Presley.
Fast forward to the current COVID-19 situation and another classic tune – Imagine by John Lennon – keeps resurfacing in my mind. The song gets me thinking about the type of world we want to live in post-pandemic. Is it too hard to imagine a world where: peoples from all walks of life are looked after; there’s no social class, privilege and oppression; less focus is put on materialism; there’s no ME but WE; and people live in peace and harmony with one another and our planet?
In the wake of this pandemic, there are glimmers of hope. People are driving and buying less, which helps in the fight against climate change. We’re witnessing more random acts of kindness from strangers. There is more unity in our communities to help, encourage and support each other through hard times. Government has also stepped up, providing funds to support marginalized Canadians most affected by COVID-19.
We can’t go back to the way things were pre-COVID-19.
It’s not okay for economic well-being to continually take priority over basic human rights. It’s not acceptable that people must decide whether to pay rent or buy groceries. It’s deplorable for Indigenous peoples to live in communities with no safe, drinkable water, cramped, sub-standard housing, and limited access to health care. It’s unfair that certain individuals get treated better on the job, at school, in the courts and in health care settings just because of their race, gender or social class.
We ignore the need to protect all life on earth – and Earth itself – at our own peril.
This pandemic has taken its toll, but it has also presented us the opportunity to imagine what a better society could be like in future. What positive responses from COVID-19 can we carry forward to help people? What gaps can we fill now to ensure the vulnerable and disadvantaged among us don’t fall through the cracks again?
Let’s move on from imagination to action so that possibilities of a better society tomorrow become a reality today. Start the conversation right now with friends, family, neighbor and leaders of our social and government institutions: let’s REALLY be in this together! Our anthem of change can be John Lennon’s immortal words:
‘You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.’