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Editorial January 21st 2022

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Everywhere I turn I am hearing the message that Omicron is “mild”. In December NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet assured us that early signs indicate Omicron is “five times less severe” than Delta. This might well be the case in the physical impact of the virus but one would have to observe that the psychological impact on the community by Omicron we are currently witnessing is far more severe than any of us can imagine. Our community and our region was hammered by the bushfires. Even the hint of wood smoke in the air brings back memories to most of us of the incredible heat, the stench of acrid smoke that found its way into our homes, our lives and our every pore. That event brought to the surface the realisation that we had no control of what might happen next. There was little that could be done and since then little has been done to give us any assurity it won’t happen again. La Nina is with us now and the rolling storms, the rain and the flooding remind us once again that we are at the whims of the gods. Add a volcano and tsunami to the mix and the reality steps up another notch that we have little choice but to accept we live on a large spinning planet that we have no control over. That in itself is daunting but we seem to reconcile that those are the risks we take. We live on fault lines, we build homes in the forest or next to the shore line. But when one natural disaster builds on the next and the next and the next … and the next it tends to undermine our hope of general stability. As a result we now live in a less predictable world and are surrounded with compounded uncertainties. There are no guarantees and we are now reminded of this annually with increased insurance premiums. Then along comes Covid. Initially we were on-guard. Most realised the potential threat the virus posed on our lives and the lives of loved ones. We saw the figures. We reacted and most vaccinated. The wave of concern turned to a wave of complacency. Noses soon appeared from atop face masks. People stopped washing their hands. We demanded our right to sing and dance. Our leaders assured us all was in order. We had trust in them but alas they failed. It turns out it was a Race and that we missed the starters gun. Lock down after lock down took its toll on our community. More and more we were isolated from each other. Humans are social beings. The loss of contact brought its own costs on our mental health. The lockdowns and messages were relentless. Isolate, test, lock down, sanitise, and isolate again. But we did it hoping to pop out the otherside to normality. We yearned to return to how it had been. A predictable life that was stable. Where there were no masks, no sanitising and no lock downs. Added to that we wanted to return to a place where the smell of woodsmoke didn’t strike immediate fear. But then came Omicron that once again reminds us that we have no control. The disruption it has caused, and continues to cause to so many millions of lives can not be described as “mild”. Each, and all of us, are not the same folk we were two years ago. Resources for mental health services are stretched to near breaking. The fact is that we don’t like the unpredictable. We need to be in control of our own lives and when that control is taken away we don’t take it well. There is much we can’t control. We enjoy order, structure, guidance, reassurance and leadership. But we now live in a world where the rules change daily and it is more than evident that our leaders also have little, if any, control. Humanity is currently rudderless and we are all in the same boat. Only the decks and cabins differ. The only thing we do have control over is how we treat ourselves and each other. We live in difficult times and we have all been affected, one way or the other by fire, flood or pestilence. So if you see a neighbour walking by be sure to raise a hand and wave. It might just be the small positive they need to get by, and they might even wave back. Take care—we still have a way to go. Until next lei


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