It was one councillor’s way of getting through to the public about the importance of social distancing, and his message has since warmed the hearts of hundreds.
Last weekend, City of Chilliwack councillor Jason Lum shared a statement on social media acknowledging the fear people are experiencing right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time also saying that this is hope.
It came just weeks after his son, Cedar, was born.
“I knew that I would be anxious about the regular stuff, baby stuff, neither [my wife] Sheila or I thought we would be welcoming our first child into the world on the day the WHO declared a viral pandemic was spreading across the globe,” Lum wrote on his own personal Facebook page on March 21.
“I realize there’s much more than fear and worry. There is hope, there is persistence, there is new life, and new growth, and there is community.”
His message came at the same time as video messages and words of advice were shared from his fellow councillors and the city’s Mayor Ken Popove. They’ve been sharing their own messages encouraging people to follow the directions of the medical health professionals to self-isolate and practise social distancing.
With a newborn at home, Lum and his new family have been doing exactly that since the beginning of the month. It’s been quiet at their house with no visitors to come hold baby Cedar.
Lum is hoping as a result of his statement people will feel motivated to help others, to reach out to their neighbours and ask if they need anything like groceries dropped off or medication picked up.
“It felt like the right message to write,” Lum said Saturday. “I thought I would acknowledge that it’s definitely scary, but there’s also a lot of beautiful things that are happening, and at the end of all this we are going to need to support each other and be supported. You can’t just be motivated by fear, you have to be motivated by a sense of hope.”
Here is Jason Lum’s message in its entirety:
“I, like many of you, have spent many recent nights awake anxious and worrying about the current situation. For the first time in my life, I worry about the future as I have never worried before. For the first time in my life, I am worrying as a parent. I knew that I would be anxious about the regular stuff, baby stuff, neither Sheila or I thought we would be welcoming our first child into the world, on the day the WHO declared a viral pandemic was spreading across the globe. So there’s that. Fear and worry can be motivating behaviours, but they can also be extremely unhealthy, and debilitating. Fear pulls us apart from each other, it makes us suspicious. Fear makes us act irrationally (makes us obsess over social media for hours on end, and hoard toilet paper) It is easy these days to succumb to fear and worry.
“But there is much more than fear and worry. As I sit here with my two-week-old son on my lap, smiling away, thoroughly unconcerned about anything but when his next meal is coming, as I listen to my neighbours girls rollerblading around the front driveway laughing and playing, as I check the new growth on the seeds I planted a few days ago, stretching toward the sunny spot on my windowsill, I realize there’s much more than fear and worry. There is hope, there is persistence, there is new life, and new growth, and there is community. And with all of these things comes a responsibility to act. To protect what we have, what we love. This is where I know people of Chilliwack will step up. I am sure of it. You already know what you need to do, keep your social distance, cough and sneeze into your elbow (something we are still trying to teach our baby boy who likes to sneeze right in his Dad’s face) practice excellent hand hygiene, stay away from crowds, only buy what you need at the grocery store. Take care of yourselves and your neighbours. Most of all – keep following the advice and instruction of the medical professionals who are working incredibly hard to keep us all safe.
“Although this isn’t really the way I had envisioned announcing the birth of our boy, Cedar Jeremiah Lum (born at Chilliwack General Hospital, 6 lbs. 4 oz.) I look forward to telling him the stories when he is older about how the people in Chilliwack stepped up and took care of each other in tough times, and he will be proud like his Dad is to live in this place with all of you. Stay safe. Stay smart. Stay connected. We will get through this together.”