Shepparton News

On the ropes, but we ’ re still fighting

- MY WORD John Lewis john.lewis@ John Lewis is a journalist at News.

Here we are at the pointy end of things. When the queues get longer, the tunnel shortens, daylight appears on the horizon, the doors creak open and commitment strengthen­s.

And somehow the pockets get deeper.

This week has been the toughest and the slowest for Shepparton people for as long as I can remember, but my memory only stretches back 30 years.

With one third of our people in strict isolation, you would expect the town to grind to a standstill. You might even expect freedom marches, or tempers fraying at people visiting homes with clipboards and the number of people still not wearing masks in public.

But with good grace people have stayed home, hunkered down, gritted their teeth and said, just like John Wayne, Tom Hanks and Winston Churchill, ‘‘we can do this’’. Except they said it better. Because they were reading from a script.

But there is no script for what we are going through. Unless anyone has personal memories from the mediaeval plagues of Europe or the Spanish f lu in 1920, this is an untrodden path. There is no collective memory of how to deal with outbreaks of disease on a mass scale.

What it takes, simply, is the sacrifice of personal freedom for the good of the community. This

rankles with a lot of people. Somehow it rankles with people in cities.

Perhaps this is because cities are a collection of disconnect­ed communitie­s made up of people who already live in isolation and don’t know their neighbours.

But country towns have always been connected.

Country communitie­s are able to absorb the punches and stand up like a boxer held on the ropes by a relentless brute, and supported by his (or her) own team.

There’s the cut-man who repairs

bleeding eyebrows and cheeks; the coach or trainer who yells instructio­ns from the sidelines; the corner-man who whispers encouragem­ent to the bleeding boxer between bells; and finally the manager who looks to his (or her) finances, and makes sure the whole fight is worthwhile. When you read ‘‘men’’ please also insert in capital letters ‘‘WOMEN’’ into these convenient labels.

We’ve got all these people right here, standing in our corner fighting for us.

In the ring at the moment are the

thousands of individual­s and families who are staying home, waiting to get tested or waiting to get vaccinated.

The bell for the first round of this epic heavyweigh­t bout was rung yesterday and is still ringing today, as thousands line up to get tested.

I salute all these boxers — the families, the lonely, the longsuffer­ing business people and those with disabiliti­es, as people prepared to take the blows, go the distance and fight the good fight.

I salute also the cut-men —

FoodShare, GV Cares, council workers and community groups who are repairing the wounds and keeping us standing.

I salute the corner-men whispering encouragem­ent.

Finally, I salute the managers who are ensuring we continue to feed our fighters.

These are the true freedom fighters. They don’t march in the streets. They stay home.

Power to you.

● The

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 ??  ?? Shepparton is in the ring . . . and fighting the good fight, with the help of its own in its corner.
Shepparton is in the ring . . . and fighting the good fight, with the help of its own in its corner.

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