Reflections on path towards a better Bermuda
In this unprecedented moment of crisis, the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and nations on lockdown are grappling to cope with the fallout of this unfolding event.
Bermuda has already suffered five tragic deaths from the virus, which has unsettled our small community.
There is a climate of fear, anxiety, uncertainty and general state of unease as the community confronts the requirement to stay in social isolation and comply with the restrictions of movement associated with this national state of emergency — otherwise referred to shelter-in-place.
This draconian measure taken to prevent community transmission of the virus has placed significant restrictions on residents' freedom of movement and assembly.
Many hotels, retail stores and restaurants are closed, leaving many out of work for the foreseeable future. Through the rigours of social-distancing and social isolation, our community is being tested in ways no one was prepared for — being forced to recognise that your behaviour is directly responsible for protecting those most vulnerable and preventing the spread of the virus.
While our community is doing its best to adjust to the “new normal”, a sense of fear was expressed through panic-buying in the early days and long lines at some grocery stores leading up to the state of emergency. We have endured two weeks of the lockdown, whose ordeal is far from over.
If this feels like a very surreal moment, almost like a science fiction movie mirroring The Matrix, one is more to open to accepting the idea that truth is stranger than fiction.
This bizarre journey almost feels like we are following Alice down the proverbial rabbit hole. At times it is very difficult to fathom the true magnitude of this catastrophe — is this is a public health disaster, a humanitarian or economic/political crisis, all of the aforementioned or something more surreal?
It appears we are in a void, where our time space continuum has come to a screeching halt; time has stopped and the future is clouded by uncertainty.
Meanwhile, some of us may want to believe this is just a bad dream or chilling nightmare. Others may subscribe to the glib cliché, “This too shall pass”.
Underlying this sentiment is the assumption or misguided hope that we will emerge from this unfolding cataclysm relatively unscathed and that we have survived national tragedies in the past — 9/11 comes to mind.
Let us not take this event lightly; it could well be a harbinger of things to come. Maybe what is happening shall not pass … who really knows? Maybe what is happening is supposed to be happening?
One could argue that the circumstances that led to this crisis are not happening by chance. It is my belief that this moment in time is truly an awakening or a reckoning, perhaps; a forced moment of reflection, an opportunity to atone and be held accountable for how far we have fallen out of balance with the Earth and each other.
Mother Earth has been trying to call our attention to our irreverence towards life and the planet through the devastating impact of climate change, but collectively we have turned a blind eye to our irresponsible stewardship of the world. So now that we have been compelled by forces, we have yet to determine, to hit the pause button and press the reset button.
The questions we now have to consider are: will we pay attention, listen and change our behaviour?
We will we take this moment of transition to ensure we do not continue along the path of destruction we have been following.
Can we remove our state of complacency, accept things will never be the same again and realise the new normal is here to stay?
If we are under the misguided belief that things will return to normal once the virus is contained, we ignore at our peril that the ground under our feet has literally shifted and we may have no choice to go on the road less travelled and forge a new path.
We now have an opportunity to take this moment of pause and reset, to take the path of renewal, to look into the face of uncertainty, be present now and accept this wake-up call.
Do we give into fear, distrust, mutual recrimination and the forces of reaction? Do we resist change and hold on to the hollow foundations? Will we loosen the grip on what we think we depend on?
Do we fight to hang on to the vestiges of the past and try to restore failing structures and systems?
Are we prepared to reflect on what we need to do to create a better world, one where we collectively unite to connect with one another globally and locally to find solutions, to manifest our desire for a better ecosystem, clean water and air, and look for renewable sources of energy and a more sustainable future?
Will we show more empathy, compassion, kindness to others and to ourselves?
These are just some of the questions that we need to confront. How we respond will not only determine how we approach future pandemics but reveal who we really are as a people.
It will also reveal the state of our humanity.
Will we demonstrate our willingness for personal self-sacrifice and service to a higher cause and show the better angels in our nature, or will we fail to live up to this moment and show we are not able to unite as a community, make changes and give up some cherished freedoms temporarily so we can prevent a global crisis?
How we respond will shape what kind of legacy we leave for our children and future generations to come, and define who we are as a nation.
• Robin Holder is a certified personal trainer at Magnum Powerforce Gym and RYT 200 Yoga Instructor, employed at Just Breathe Yoga, Energise Wellness Solutions and Rosewood Tucker's Point