COMMENTARY: Coronavirus will shape our culture

This week felt surreal. On March 11, the World Health Organization officially announced COVID-19 as a pandemic, and then a ripple effect of reactions followed. Concerts and festivals cancelled. NBA suspended. NHL suspended. Travel bans. School closures.

Oddly enough, for some it was the moment when Tom Hanks announced that he and wife Rita Wilson had it that it actually became “real” — not our beloved and untouchable Tom Hanks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has also tested positive since then. It’s been overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for even the calmest of us. On Friday I drove past a ghost-like GO station parking lot, usually without a spare spot for the taking, and then on to the grocery store, where the lineup to the parking lot spiralled down the street. I couldn’t help but think, “I feel like I’m in a movie.”

Few things in my life rival this event. It’s going to leave a deep impression on a plethora of people, especially our kids. But, however we may panic or stress, we have to acknowledge something quite remarkable — we are part of a history-making moment.

The impacts on our culture are already happening, from the postponed film premieres, cancelled concerts and suspended sports. But this is just the beginning. This is too big an event not to fire the imagination or creativity of the human mind.

Like other historic events, there will be a “before” and “after” COVID-19. It’s hard to take it all in stride, but we should pay close attention to the “during” because we’re living in this moment — the big and the small arches of it.

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