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Pandemic, lockdown and the family

Photograph by Blaire Simmons

Just about every country on the planet has had to alter what would be ordinary activity in daily life as a result of a pandemic that still rages despite massive vaccination of millions around the world.

Dramatic action aimed at halting the spread of a disease that has impacted major sporting events and public functions where people in proximity, some without wearing masks, have created situations that make it difficult for health officials to gain control.

Although the death toll globally is staggering, with millions in hospital, and a lingering health threat for all ages, many countries including our beloved Bermuda are wrestling with not only the economic impact through job losses, but also the beneath-the-surface issues that take a heavy toll on family life.

Even without the pandemic caused by the coronavirus in this modern era of so many changes in lifestyles, the family was under siege as the unit for teaching important values early about respect, honesty and being truthful.

This is not to say that those values are not being taught by families striving to do their utmost to guide young minds in a positive direction. In the best of times, raising children will always be a challenge. However, when parents are under stress for whatever reason, the parental task of being positive in giving hope and confidence is not always on the front burner.

This is not a criticism of any parent or guardian. The family, even in this fast-moving modern world, should be one of the solid anchors of community life. It is in the home setting where most children experience their first taste of discipline when they step out of line in expected behaviour.

At least that should be the place to learn important lessons about how we should treat one another — not just in the home, but also along the complex journey of life. Some of us have had to learn the hard way that being rude or disrespectful can result in unpleasant consequences.

In the old days, most children knew very well that speaking to a parent or guardian in a rude manner meant something was going to happen that just might involve pain. That thought was a guidepost for many of our most successful citizens.

As we in Bermuda struggle to move away from lockdowns and curfews, implemented to curtail the further spread of the coronavirus, there are mixed reactions with sections of the community over the process, which health officials urge is necessary to get the island to a safer state in order to slowly resume a degree of normality through which life can be breathed back into our economy.

As in other parts of the world, leaders are confronted with groups who object to being told to wear mask and practise social or physical distancing. This is despite advice from leading medical experts who know that more than vaccines will be needed to eradicate the disease.

When adults who should know better openly display total disregard for rules, and any process they feel violates their right to do as they please, it sends the wrong message to young people. That places a greater strain on their parents in trying to teach that in life there are rules and laws designed to keep people safe.

Families around the world have been challenged with lockdowns and curfews, and in some instances mental stress has led to domestic violence with children present. The impact of such activity behind closed doors weakens the family unit and the role it should be playing in paving the way for citizens of tomorrow.

We still have a lovely island and many beautiful families doing their best to cope with a difficult period for the world. Lockdowns and curfews need not be the end of the world. I am reminded of the words from a young girl who was forced to spend two years in a small dwelling with her family to avoid capture by the Germans during the war. Even though eventually she and the family were tragically captured, she never lost sight of what meant most to her in life. In her diary that covered her time in hiding, she wrote: “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”

Those familiar with this story know the brave little girl was Anne Frank. After so many years, her words still inspire many families around the world.

These are tough times, but we in Bermuda, especially our families, will make it through if we work harder at remembering many of the golden rules for living that were handed down by those who did their best to keep proper attitudes as a priority.

The family must be protected and kept intact as a guidepost for future generations. We can do it by working together.

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Published March 20, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 19, 2021 at 2:28 pm)

Pandemic, lockdown and the family

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