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In our spaces and places we have too much time to think and to worry; yet in this world battle we have the easy parts.

Yes, we are being asked to live differently and at a distance, having to learn new rules; hear and heed advice that throws us out of our daily norms and routines, but we are not on the hospital front lines and we don’t want to be there.

We can all identify with Michelle O’Neill’s tears in the Assembly chamber on Monday and with two tweets from two of my long-time colleagues in the past 24 hours.

Firstly, Eamonn Mallie describing emotional fragility and, then, Ken Reid telling us that he is frightened.

We all are; afraid of hearing a cough, wanting to close our eyes and ears; and, in this unknown and unwanted moment in our times, we probably understand, now more than ever, the importance of those closest to us.

In recent months, both Ken and myself became grandparents, and, for now, and we don’t know for how much longer, we can’t be with Aoife and Summer; but with all of the communications advances we can see them and speak with them.

We are lucky and grateful for that.

I agree with Eamonn that what we are experiencing now is different from the conflict period.

We got lost in the blizzard of those reporting years spread over several decades; we were dehumanised and the dead and injured became statistics.

It was only afterwards that we found time to reflect and to think and to properly remember.

This virus is different. It has raced and raged at the world in some frantic sprint.

We know its consequences. We can see the hospital pictures from Italy and Spain and China.

We know it is with us but we don’t know the precise where.

This is the fear of the unknown and the why of having to do things differently.

I took this photograph standing in a queue outside a pharmacy in my hometown last week; those there having to measure distance between the person next to them.

This is part of the new rules, new thinking and new times – all of this the easy part compared with the challenges and pressures others are facing.

That message – stay home and stay safe – shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

It is about giving everybody a chance and not taking chances.

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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process. His latest book (published by Merrion Press) POLITICAL PURGATORY – the battle to save Stormont and the play for a New Ireland is now available at www.merrionpress.ie

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