Canadians started a 'caremongering' campaign to counteract pandemic 'scaremongering'
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

At this point in our first collective pandemic experience, I think it's safe to assume we're all a little freaked out. Life as we know it has been flipped upside down in a very short period of time, we know the increased spread of the virus is coming and hope we're doing enough to slow it down, and we're watching the economy tailspin, all at the same time.


While some have accused the media of scaremongering, the reality is that this virus is legitimately scary if left unchecked. We need to understand reality we're up against here, which unfortunately means processing mindboggling models and frightening firsthand stories.

But we can't stop at informed fear. Crises such as this can bring out the best and the worst in people, and we all need to decide which it's going to be. That's why some kind-hearted Canadians are asking everyone to call on their better angels with an initiative nicknamed "caremongering."

The idea is simple: Spread kindness like a virus. Help people in your community, especially those most vulnerable due to age, health, or financial circumstance.

That might look like offering to pick up groceries or make a pharmacy run for an elderly or immunocompromised neighbor. It might look like taking up a collection for a local business hit hard by the lockdown.

Caremongering groups have sprung up on social media to coordinate efforts. According to the BBC, more than 35 Facebook groups have been set up in just a few days across Ottawa, Halifax, and Annapolis County in Nova Scotia. More than 30,000 people have joined the groups.

Posts in the group include offers of assistance (using #offer) or people in need of assistance (#iso—"in search of"). Then the community works to get needs met.

The original groups were started by Mita Hans, Valentina Harper, and others. They thought they'd have a couple dozen people, and are happy to see thousands interesting in helping their neighbors. Harper said the most positive thing to come out of it is the local groups geared to specific neighborhoods, where people can immediately reach out and offer what's needed.

"Scaremongering is a big problem," Harper told the BBC. "We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other. It's spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time—now more than ever."

The groups have also become a place for people to share positive stories of humans helping other humans—the kinds of uplifting examples of the best of humanity we all need more of right now—in addition to a place where community can come together virtually.

"It's really shown us the need that people have to have some level of reassurance and hope," Harper said. "Anxiety, isolation and lack of hope affects you. In providing this virtual community which allows people to help each other, I think it is really showing people there is still hope for humanity. We haven't lost our hope."

Oh Canada, thank you for living up to your reputation for kindness and serving as an example to the rest of the world in these extraordinary and uncertain times.

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Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

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On September 14, Charles "Chuck" Feeney signed the paperwork to shut down Atlantic Philanthropies. The ceremony was attended via Zoom by the philanthropies' board which included former California Governor Jerry Brown, Bill Gates, and Nancy Pelosi.

While most would think the shuttering of a philanthropic endeavor would be a sad event, it was just how Feeney planned. It marked the competition of four-decade mission to give away almost every penny of his $8 billion fortune.

Feeney has saved $2 million to live on for the remainder of his life.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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