Lockdown is bringing out the best and worst in Ken Behrens

Zoya Patel 18 August 2021 36
Ken Behrens shout out

Our Spartacus Moment: The Chief gives a shout out to all of us – Ken Behrens. Photo: Twitter.

In the grips of our first ‘hard’ lockdown, it’s fair to say that many Canberrans have been surprised by their emotional reactions to the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

We’ve fared mostly well through the pandemic, and I think many of us were pinching ourselves the longer the NSW situation escalated and we remained untouched.

So I imagine many of you reacted like I did last Thursday when the lockdown was announced – with a sense of resignation, as we knew this was coming and are ready to get it done, rid our city of the virus for the second time, and get back to normal as quickly as possible.

I expected everyone to take it in their stride, given we’ve had well over a year to come to terms with the pandemic as a constant part of our lives, and so I was disappointed in how so many Canberrans reacted. The panic buying. The melodramatic statements of trauma I saw flood social media, bemoaning the extreme hardship people expected to face stuck in their homes for a week (which was what we expected at the time). The flagrant flouting of lockdown measures in those early days by people insistent on continuing their day-to-day, not wearing masks, trying to sit outside with their coffees as though nothing had changed. The people I know who selfishly left Canberra for the coast and the regions despite the clear advice not to.

READ MORE: Malhotra family dishes up free meals on wheels for locals in need

Realistically, the people who I saw displaying the least community-minded behaviours were the ones who are guaranteed the easiest ride through lockdown.

The contacts crying out on social media about the toll of the lockdown on their wellbeing were those who had secure employment, lived in homes that they owned, and who were more than able to manage their exercise, sustenance, and entertainment for a short period of time.

Yes, mental health is different for everyone, but perspective is also vital, especially given what many of our community are facing when it comes to losing work, businesses going bankrupt, and worrying about friends and family in other countries who are facing much worse scenarios of violence and displacement than we are, as an example.

The pandemic isn’t easy on anyone, but objectively speaking, some of us do have it easier than many when we don’t have to worry about income, food, a roof over our heads, and our futures alongside the real fear of contracting the virus.

READ MORE: Proud Ken Behrens: Canberrans embrace the lighter side of COVID lockdowns

So I started the lockdown feeling frustrated at the lack of perspective and resilience I saw around me. That’s why I’m so relieved that Ken Behrens came along when he did.

The community hilarity at Facebook’s caption gaffe during the Chief Minister’s press conference was the reminder I needed that while we all cope in different ways, there are simple moments of connection that can traverse the chasms between us.

Literally everyone I know, from all different parts of the community, had a giggle about Ken Behrens. It felt nice to be united in an in-joke that we all understood and enjoyed because we are indeed Canberrans, and it’s something we share regardless of our views on vaccinations, lockdown measures, the actions of the government etc.

We now have another two weeks minimum of lockdown ahead, and we’ll likely all experience some lows and some highs over this time. I’m going to try to be more compassionate about how my community is faring, even if I don’t understand the exact drivers of people’s emotional fluctuations as they come and go.

I hope we can all blend empathy with perspective, focus on doing the right thing, and get to the other side of this with our community intact.

It’s what Ken Behrens would want.

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36 Responses to Lockdown is bringing out the best and worst in Ken Behrens
whatwik whatwik 8:11 pm 20 Aug 21

We can be truly thankful the Death Cult stuff we have been seeing in the Land of the Free has been muted here and our health professionals don’t have to put up with this –


Malcolm Kerec Malcolm Kerec 6:59 pm 20 Aug 21

I don't know where you all live, but in my neck of the woods I've barely seen a single person doing the wrong thing. Everyone is masked up & checking in at the supermarket. People out walking also wearing masks, even when there's nobody within 500m of them.

tim_c tim_c 11:59 am 20 Aug 21

“…the extreme hardship people expected to face stuck in their homes for a week (which was what we expected at the time)”
Wow, you believed that?! I didn’t know anyone who actually believed it was only going to be for a week!

Steve McLeish Steve McLeish 6:01 am 20 Aug 21

This article reeks of privilege and lack of perspective.

    Ken Bowes Ken Bowes 6:50 pm 20 Aug 21

    Steve McLeish As do many of Zoya's pieces I find

Denise Wells Wilson Denise Wells Wilson 8:17 pm 19 Aug 21

Whilst the majority of people do the right thing it's always the minority that ruin it for everyone.......Always!

Unfortunately, we can't just ignore them in this instance. They should have the book thrown at them.

Joanne Jeanes Joanne Jeanes 6:42 pm 19 Aug 21

I wish that people would stop saying we are all in this together! I don't think some people think that!

Drew Forrest Drew Forrest 4:52 pm 19 Aug 21

Natasha Forrest - Info on us Ken Behrens

Karl Edmondson Karl Edmondson 4:34 pm 19 Aug 21

There a few more motorbikes than normal on the bike paths here in West Belconnen today.

Viviana Torres Viviana Torres 4:00 pm 19 Aug 21

Ken Behrens Carlos Mario Gonzalez Castro 😂

Deanne Perry Deanne Perry 3:33 pm 19 Aug 21


Deanne Perry Deanne Perry 3:21 pm 19 Aug 21

and another one


Judith White Judith White 12:50 pm 19 Aug 21

Yeah, nice..... Paragraph 6 - I wondered who these people were ? Did you know them ? "Houses that they own" could be owned mostly by the bank ?? It's a pretty judgmental statement if you don't actually personally know these people.... Otherwise, yes, nice article.....

oliobandito oliobandito 12:20 pm 19 Aug 21

Good opinion piece. It does sort out the selfish from the community minded.

I too was surprised by “panic buying”, it’s like some dingbats have the memory of goldfish. I still don’t get the toilet paper thing, maybe all the public servants save their poos for the office!

Tim Mak Tim Mak 11:11 am 19 Aug 21

Best: Ken Behrens

Worst: Karen Behrens

Niko Las Niko Las 10:48 am 19 Aug 21

I sick and tired of this positive crap when all I see outside my place is people not wearing masks. Walking around lake Tuggeranong in big groups. People sitting down and socialising and drinking coffee. Let's get the facts right. Some are doing the right thing. Others arent. More like Karen Behrens

    Guy Noble Guy Noble 12:29 pm 19 Aug 21

    Niko Las I agree totally. I went to get petrol at 6am the other morn thinking it was a good time. One guy no mask came in made a coffee and after i turned he was standing right behind me. If we do the right thing thats all we can do, and hope the law covers the rest

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 6:33 pm 19 Aug 21

    Niko Las wow! Perhaps you should report this when you witness it.

    Large walking & coffee drinking groups ... not on - the mind bogles..

Keith Alderson Keith Alderson 9:27 am 19 Aug 21

Or you can try to do the right thing by going to get your 2nd vaccination only to be stopped at the door by an app that has no capacity to explain a situation. Then by a manager who refuses to listen once a keyword is uttered and then goes into a little britain "Computer say no" routine

Nat Celia Nat Celia 8:50 am 19 Aug 21

Be Ken... not Karen :)

Rhiannon Agutter Rhiannon Agutter 8:42 am 19 Aug 21

Yeah can we not dismiss people’s “melodramatic statements of trauma”. It’s not a competition as to who has it worse. Just because someone is suffering more, doesn’t mean that someone who looks well off isn’t also suffering.

Everyone deals with trauma differently.

I have a job I can do from home. It doesn’t pay well, but I get by. I’m thankful for this. But I also had a panic attack on the first day of lockdown and several since because I realised that I am surrounded by exposure site and that since I live alone and have no family in Canberra if I was to get sick I would be completely on my own. If I had an emergency situation I could easily die in my home because no one would be there to take me to hospital and given how crappy work IT is there’s every chance my colleagues wouldn’t notice me missing for some time. I’m also scared if I end up in lockdown I’ll miss the vaccine appointment I’ve been waiting months for.

Just because I’m not a single mum homeschooling three kids, or an out of work hospo employee in a shitty share house it doesn’t make my troubles and concerns less valid than anyone else’s.

    Claire Cat Claire Cat 9:03 am 19 Aug 21

    Rhiannon Agutter oh hunny ❤️ I hear you. Are you able to organise a daily check in with a friend or family member who is briefed on calling the authorities if you miss the call?

    Also highly recommend giving one of the beyond blue a call, they might know of a service you can access even from lockdown to ensure that you don't feel so alone.

    I'm sorry you are feeling this way and I'm sending you the biggest virtual hug ever xxxx

    Rhiannon Agutter Rhiannon Agutter 9:12 am 19 Aug 21

    Claire Cat checking in with someone regularly is a great idea. I shall do that. ❤

    Trish Fletcher Trish Fletcher 9:15 am 19 Aug 21

    Rhiannon Agutter You can still go for your vaccination. It's considered an essential service, so you can rest easy about that.

    Margaret Edwards Margaret Edwards 9:21 am 19 Aug 21

    Rhiannon Agutter do you have a friend who is also single? You are allowed a “bubble buddy”. I also live alone but have a friend who is also dingle and we check with each other daily. I am also a bit scared to go to my local Woolies as it is right next to the Weston Creek testing station.

    Mark Oz Mark Oz 9:25 am 20 Aug 21

    Rhiannon Agutter With all due respect, Rhiannon, you are typical of the 'what about me' attitude that's becoming prevalent these days. "I have a job ..." - what about all of those people who have lost theirs, through no fault of their own and are struggling to get by and support their family on JobSeeker? "I live alone ..." - what about those people living out of their cars, or those who don't live alone and are in a violent relationship from which they cannot escape? And you are on social media - which is a readily available way of interacting with others. All three responses to you, have given you very simple advice to you on how to overcome your isolation - and this information has been regularly published on all forms of media. Mental health is a very real concern these days, but posting a 'poor me' call for sympathy is not the way to address it.

    Fiona Beryl Fiona Beryl 12:55 pm 20 Aug 21

    Rhiannon Agutter I thought I was ok on Friday last week. Unfortunately by Sunday I could feel myself slipping back into a dark place that I have found myself in many times before. Because I was busy at work (I'm an allied healthcare professional) I missed the earlier signs that should have alerted me to take control sooner. I found this article quite difficult to like because whilst the author was encouraging empathy for those who may struggling, they also appeared to be excluding certain members of society. Get in contact with Beyond Blue and join in on their chat platforms. Most of all, just keep hanging in there.

Cath Granny Cath Granny 8:24 am 19 Aug 21

What needs to be a knowledged is that as one person put it, we may be in this storm together but some people are on a cruise 🚢 ship and others in a crowded leaky boat. Lockdown in a suburban house with a backyard, some lovely open space nearby to take a walk, a few spare rooms for working at home is a heck of a lot different to a family of 5 in an apartment on the 7 th floor with perhaps one or other adult not receiving an income, and precarious employment. There is a disturbing Canberra mindset that we are all economically the same. “Be kind” needs to include being slow to judge others’ struggles.

    Ian Don Ian Don 8:35 am 19 Aug 21

    Cath Granny whilst some people may be stuck in apartments I can’t think of anywhere in the ACT that isn’t near open space to take a walk. Even those blocks in civic have access to green space.

    Cath Granny Cath Granny 8:41 am 19 Aug 21

    True but the point I’m making is that lockdown is not the same for everybody. Families on small apartments for the other 23 hours of the day are doing it much tougher than others. That always needs to be acknowledge when we talk about lockdown.

    Rhiannon Agutter Rhiannon Agutter 8:43 am 19 Aug 21

    Ian Don some of us are scared to leave our apartments because we’re in suburbs with lots of cases and poor mask compliance

    Jo Miles Jo Miles 10:00 am 19 Aug 21

    Ian Don though if you are a close contact, a secondary contact, or in isolation, you are not allowed to go for a walk in the open spaces.

Ian Leary Ian Leary 8:07 am 19 Aug 21

Hopefully we can have a Ken Behrens day instead of a freedom day when our vaccine rates reach hi

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