In the nearly 40 years that our business has been in existence, we have witnessed a lot of different upheaval. From a postal strike that nearly crippled our business in the very first year of operations to what is now commonly referred to as a once in a lifetime experience of seeing business and citizens in countries around the world and Canada being asked to take on voluntary house arrest because of a new global virus.
In hindsight, a postal strike was a major experience back in 1981. Because in those days, Canada Post was the carrier of invoices and cheques, which were crucial for start-ups. Think prehistoric times, where phones, typewriters, and plain paper letters in envelopes were the most acceptable forms of personal and business communications.
Fast forward to today and indeed we can easily recall how we first reacted to the news from China back in late December 2019 and January, when their leaders just closed down a city of 11 million citizens, then a province of 60 million and then 50% of the country, placing 750 million people in quarantine.
How was this even possible and was this going to be the end of their prosperity and growth of the last couple of decades? How abhorred we were at their lack of freedom, with CCTV monitoring all their moves, that their faces were in the ‘system’ and monitored to see if they adhered to the shut-down.
How we failed to see, that with a united community spirit and trust in their leadership, it kept the Chinese population so much safer than what western nations have been able to achieve in the months and weeks leading up to our own pandemic experience. And yet we had ample warning.
Bottom-line: regardless how long this pandemic is going to last in Canada, it may provide a few generations that are alive today with an experience that will not be easily forgotten in their lifetime.
One thing is for sure: it will take a long time to recover from, not just economically, but culturally, psychologically, physical and mental health wise. Another thing that is certain: we now discover that freedom and democracy comes with a high price. Sometimes even a life from a loved one, a friend, a neighbour or someone we know. And for sure it will shatter some dreams, like early retirement, or getting to the next big thing on our bucket list, or our sense of superiority when it comes to living in a modern democratic western society.
But maybe it will also show us not to jump too quickly to conclusions when it comes to our Asian friends. Because now it looks very convincing how they have been able to overcome COVID-19, as the first global nation to deal with this unknown calamity, by being dedicated, with stamina and conviction that even in Canada we would have been hard-pressed to copy if this would have happened here over our holiday period.
No matter what the odds, the Tom Hanks virus, as someone called it the other day, should show our western society that we cannot rely on our political and scientific leaders to be prepared for any of these incidents. We all need to question our country’s preparedness or the action plans that have been put in place.
In my mind we would be far better off to study how countries like Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, China, and Germany, just to name a few, were able to get on with life gradually. A little humbleness may go a long way in that regard. Just ask the Donald.
Check out this DW Documentary: COVID-19 in China, South-Korea, Taiwan and Japan and see it for yourself.