A cousin shared this photo with me and it really resonated! So often, especially during these days of Covid-19, we hear people say that their rights are being infringed upon because they are asked to wear a mask, or they need to wait to enter a retail establishment because the retailer is over their customer limit in the shop, or because they can’t freely travel throughout Canada and instead may be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically states that every Canadian citizen and permanent resident has the right to “move and take up residence” in any province. Some folks point to this to say that it is their right to travel freely within Canada. The Canadian constitution, however, allows for the balancing of rights against “other legitimate societal objectives, like public health”.
What if, instead of taking the position of the possible infringement of our rights, we looked upon these concerns from the perspective of what are our obligations? It is our obligation as members of the human race to care for and look out for one another. If the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask can help to slow or stop the community spread of Covid-19, can save the lives of our children, our friends, our elders, is it not our obligation to do so? Is the immediate purchase of that sale item or school supply more important than the health of the retail workers and other people who are in the store? Are your rights as a customer more important than waiting 5 or 10 minutes to help out the retail employee who is trying to provide a safe shopping environment? As much as I am heartbroken that I can’t see my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew this summer, we all agree that it is our obligation to one another and to the people in our respective communities that we forego this year’s “haggisfest” (an inside joke). Hopefully, by the time January 2022 rolls around, we’ll be able to travel to attend my niece’s wedding!
Next, let’s look at our obligation to this planet we call home. The wildfires on the west coast of the United States are truly frightening. Yes, it was the right of that family to hold a gender-reveal party (whether or not you are in favour of such parties, it was still their right). It was also, however, their obligation to ensure that they did so in a safe fashion. This family is not responsible for destroying the 2.3 million acres currently ablaze but they are responsible for 10,000 acres of destruction. Climate change is the main contributor to this destruction. Drought conditions combined with the tail end of a tropical storm that combined high humidity with consistently high air temperatures created storm clouds that produce very little rain but loads of lightening. The smoke from these fires has made its way into the province of British Columbia and just a few days ago, their air quality index reached 10+, the highest rating for pollution! Here in PEI, we can’t bury our heads in the sand dunes and believe that what’s happening on the west coast has no impact here. Those colourful sunsets of the last couple of days are caused by the wildfire smoke in our atmosphere.
It is our obligation once again as members of the human race to take immediate steps to reduce the conditions that create climate change. Look at how our air quality improved during the early days of Covid-19 when we weren’t travelling to and from work and international travel had ground to a halt. My niece is expecting her first child. I want this planet to be healthy for this wee one and future generations! Even small steps, taken by many people, can have a big impact. Picture a pebble thrown into the water. It is just a small pebble but the ripples spread wide. Reduce our fast fashion purchases and instead look to quality and natural fibres. Recycle old clothing into hooked or braided rugs! Look for natural health and beauty products that have little to no packaging. I have been using a locally-made PH balanced, sulfate free shampoo bar – leaves my hair in great condition and the only “waste” is a compostable coffee filter used for packaging. Take up knitting – it’s relaxing and meditative. And choose wool for your projects. It’s compostable, fire retardant and regulates your body temperature (need we even mention how important this is if you have hot flashes?!?). And thank heavens for sheep. By munching on underbrush, they can help to reduce the spread of wildfires. They convert plant matter into a beautiful fibre year after year. Their responsible shepherds ensure that absolutely no harm is done to these sweet creatures when shearing takes place.
We can’t overlook an important obligation – the obligation of self-care. No matter your age, it is never too late to take care of your physical and mental health. Life can be busy and full of stressors. We cope better if we get a good night’s sleep, fuel ourselves with proper nutrition and take steps to deal with these stressors. Speak to family members, friends or a professional if you are experiencing depression. Hobbies, enjoying outdoor activities, listening to music are beneficial to both your physical and mental wellbeing. If we meet this obligation of self care, we will be in a far better place to be able to meet our obligations to our family, our job, our community, and our beautiful planet.
Live life luxuriously! Classic simplicity is what I enjoy the most - in clothing design, home decor and in life!