“For neither good nor evil can last for ever; and so it follows that as evil has lasted a long time, good must now be close at hand.”Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
There is a dramatic polarization happening in my community these days, likely driven forward by the trials, stresses, and new world imposed upon us all by the madding COVID virus. Most people are calm, accepting, and understanding of the harsh changes in life these days. However, a minority of people that seems to be growing in numbers lately are now railing fiercely against COVID, the government, and all of the myriad of restrictions and limitations in life these days. One minute they are charging the government of severe incompetence and poor handing of the vaccine distribution. The next minute they cite unknown sources saying that the vaccine will cause them to be sterile, or that it is totally untested, or will ultimately kill them. These are indeed confusing and complicated people.
Personally, I have struggled to comprehend it all too. However, I remain ever hopeful, steadfastly positioned in the majority, so I am accepting and compliant to the ways of this new normal. To me, it is not all that hard to accept these impositions on my personal life. I view it all as world war against this virus. We must do whatever we can to protect our society and way of life. Will it ever return to the way it was, no, it will not. But, that is how it always has been anyway, so change is the only constant in life. At least, that is how I see it all.
However, even for me it is much harder to address these restrictions to my business life whereby they are costing everyone a very big price. I see the hardships, the closed retailers, lost service providers, and shuttered restaurants. I feel this pain myself and feel it for those who have struggled and lost it all. Yes, at my employer we are still operational and continuing to pursue a profitable year – as best as we can at least. But, this is definitely a year of wild transformation and learning new ways to do business. Human contact is vital for business, and some days the endless Zoom, Teams, and WebEx calls can be mentally exhausting. I still question the productively of it all, but slowly we are learning more and adopting new ideas and fighting our way back again to whatever life lies ahead.
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
There are those of my friends who do not share my perspectives – they resist it all – they have largely departed from the common and popular approach and are no longer considering the good of the many, they have become laser focused on themselves – their own well-being – the good of the one. They believe that the good of the one, outweighs the good of the many. Every thing and every one is offending them in some way. They fight it all. They resist everything. They rant and rage endlessly. For example, one friend rages that “The government is tyrannical, yet simultaneously they expect hand-outs to protect their employers”. Tyranny is a right-wing thing, whereas hand-outs are an activity of the left-wing. So, these two propositions are in ideological conflict to each other. I cannot reconcile their arguments, so I fail to see and understand their point of views. I continue to try to comprehend.
It all reminds me of the famous novel, Don Quixote, the mad knight-errand on his insane solo quest. Albeit he is supported by his ever faithful squire, Sancho Panza. So, not actually solo, although that is how he sees it all – him against the world. Don Quixote’s rhetorical monologues on knighthood, were already considered old-fashioned at the time – he was not in sync with his own society either. Don Quixote, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story. The plot revolves around the adventures of this supposed noble from La Mancha, who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight-errand to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.
In a similar manner, those amongst us who fight this necessary oppression imposed by the seriousness of the virus, also dream of other times, and days gone by. They long for freedoms that have been dismissed due to the risks from this sickness and the unrelenting death tolls. Instead of reading too many chivalric romances, the modern Don Quixote’s sweep the world wide web to find stories by others who share these defiant perspectives. They hunt insanely for even the smallest of hints to return to the past. They resist the changes with all of their might. It is a fool’s battle that cannot be won.
“What man can pretend to know the riddle of a woman’s mind?”― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
They push-back hard and expound endlessly on wild and unsubstantiated stories conjured up by other disgruntled conspiracy theorists. They fight mightily in their quest to meet their true love, no, sadly not the fair Dulcinea del Tobaso, but in today’s story they seek the beauty of lost freedoms and romantic times of unobstructed self-indulgences. They steadfastly refuse to adapt. So, they live a life of disillusionment and are no longer connected to the mainstream fabric of our society. They are now conflicted, drowning in the same social fabric and cultures that at one time held them buoyantly afloat, with their head barely above water, but still surviving. Now, they gasp for airs of freedom. It is a truly valiant fight, but a fool’s errand nonetheless.
Like Don Quixote, my resistant friends try to drive their verbal lances at the churning windmills of government command and control. They see the government as the main foe, so their disillusionment adventures begin, starting, just like was the case with Don Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants. They stab at the politico windmills unrelentingly, trying to slay the foe and save their world and themselves. But, the real enemy is the virus. So, their thrusts are misdirected towards the very helpful partners that they need themselves.
Canadians are reporting their highest levels of anxiety (23%) and depression (15%) – above the levels at the peak of COVID’s first wave. However, most are optimistic that they will recover once the pandemic is over, with 65% of Canadians indicating they remain highly resilient to challenges like COVID-19.
These are among the key findings of our fourth poll in an ongoing series on “Mental Health in Crisis: How COVID-19 Is Impacting Canadians”. The poll captures Canadians’ perceptions of their levels of anxiety and depression in order to identify and evaluate the factors that influence mental health.
“The high levels of anxiety and depression reported by Canadians are a serious concern, especially because Canadians are not receiving mental health supports at the same rate as before the pandemic. Not only are Canadians less likely to be getting in-person support from a mental health professional, they are also less likely to be speaking to their family physician,” says Dr. David Dozois, MHRC Board Member and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program at Western University.
So, it is a time to relax some rules and cut your friends, family, and coworkers some extra slack as they struggle every day to cope and endure this virus crisis. Just like the fabled Don Quixote, people begin by raging against the proverbial windmills, then others come to understand what is happening and accept the rage and fantastic stories allowing it all to simply fall like raindrops off a pane of glass, fall away without reactions, until in the end, the sanity is regained and balance is restored. COVID ends…
“It’s up to brave hearts, sir, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when they’re going well …”― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
MHRC. (2021). National poll on impact of COVID-19: Four studies in 13-poll series. Mental Health Research Canada. Retrieved on February 4, 2021 from, https://www.mhrc.ca/national-data-on-covid
About the Author:
Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 20 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.