This week, it seems as if everything is going at light speed. I’m not watching the news and getting sucked into that sensationalism anymore, but if you think about it, we’re suddenly no longer paying attention to the opioid/fentanyl overdose crisis (big pharma companies have got to love that), domestic abuse, murders on every street corner (okay, that was a little exaggerated), homelessness (which, by the way, was rarely, if ever, reported on), communities whose water has been poisoned by some corporation (yes, again, that was not newsworthy), poverty, underprivileged people without medical care and the basic necessities, or people wronged by a system that’s not supposed to be screwing them (which also was rarely, if ever, reported on).
Apparently, the only thing happening is a pandemic, but every one of these issues is still going on outside the media. It comes down to what makes the best news, so if you’re like me and you’ve turned off all the news stations, you’re likely also feeling as if a lot of the stress you were carrying because of this ridiculous unknown has been lifted from your shoulders. You’re probably sleeping better, too. Don’t get me wrong: News is important, but only when it’s reporting the facts, not someone’s sensationalized take on the story for ratings. We have dramas and movies and TV shows and books for that kind of entertainment. I don’t want to hear about someone’s tragedy being sensationalized.
I was talking with a friend this past week about how all these prior issues don’t exist anymore. These are issues and major problems that have existed for decades, which no one in leadership has any idea how to fix. When the Olympics came to BC way back when, the powers that be (you know, those behind-the-scenes people who pull the strings but never get any bad press) ordered the police to move the homeless out. What was it called, “Cuff them and stuff them”? They shipped them off anywhere else so they were out of sight and out of mind and the visitors coming in wouldn’t be bothered by the huge problem Vancouver has had for so long, homelessness that is only continuing to get worse. During the Olympics, the need to remove the homeless from high-visibility tourist areas took precedence. Really?
If you think this doesn’t happen where you live, know that it happens everywhere for all kinds of reasons, but mostly to prevent embarrassment for the political party and leader in power so no one can see that they have continued to ignore the most vulnerable. What politician really wants to clean up the kind of problem that forces people onto the streets? If you’re wondering why I’m talking about this now, it’s because with the pandemic, a huge number of people have lost their jobs because of the shut-down, have drained any savings they had, and are having to decide whether to pay rent or eat. Some will not have anything to fall back on and could soon face the scenario of not having the one thing everyone should have: a roof over their head.
There are also those on the streets who’ve been there for a long time, trying to survive, from the mentally ill, who can’t get help because of service cuts, to, yes, believe it or not, veterans. We don’t know what has happened to rock these people’s worlds and put them at rock bottom, in a place where they can’t find their footing. Sometimes, when life smacks you upside the head, you just don’t know how to take that first step. And some never do.
So what’s the answer here? I don’t know. Here’s one thing to ask ourselves as everyone talks about getting back to normal—or, rather, the new normal: How about we actually try to make things better instead?