These are unprecedented times.
We are all learning to adapt to the new reality. For most of us, this means prolonged periods of lockdown and social distancing, often being apart from those we care most about.
Whilst we accept that these measures are essential to prevent the spread of infection, they do clearly impact on people’s individual health and wellbeing. They impact on society and communities. By their nature, the measures are designed to prevent what for most of us comes naturally, the need to socialise and be around other people.
As human beings, we are wired for social connection and belonging.
Whatever the inconvenience, it is nothing compared to the heartbreak and loss experienced by so many around the world. This virus has no respect for status, nationality nor geographical boundaries. It is unforgiving and cruel. Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones. Our hearts are with the people who are still battling this awful virus. Our gratitude is with the brave front line workers who continue to selflessly put themselves in harms’ way to help others. At times like this, we see the best of humanity shining through in the darkness.
As our political leaders often mention, behind each statistic is a human being, with families and friends grieving their loss. So many have been taken too soon, and it goes to the core of our humanity to want to provide comfort.
A simple hug or embrace with someone who is at a point of despair is the most natural of human needs.
The cruel nature of this virus means that even that is denied to those who are grieving and in distress.
So again, we learn to adapt and convey kindness and compassion whilst being socially distanced. We have all been touched by the simple acts of kindness expressed for neighbours and those who are in need. In so many ways, the virus has connected people in our shared vulnerability. Communities and charities have done amazing, selfless work to alleviate suffering. It has led to a new appreciation that we are all interconnected and share many of the same worries and anxieties. It has highlighted the need for cooperation at all levels, in the home, in local communities, cities, nationally, internationally, and globally.
This new level of emotional connection and shared vulnerability to the virus can lead to a better world. There has been a reckoning across many of our financial, business, and political systems. The virus has ruthlessly exposed division and disunity.
Our only hope is to build a world in which partisan nationalist self-interest and politics takes second place to the common good. A world in which we respect the environment and work together to find solutions. A world in which everyone in our communities is valued, irrespective of status so that everyone has a stake in society and a chance of a better future. A world in which we no longer tolerate greed and selfishness whilst others are condemned to a lifetime of poverty. A world in which we reject the politics of hate, fear, and division.
I accept it sounds idealistic, but we should dare to dream. There have been examples of inspiring leadership around the world. Leaders who have steadfastly led nations with compassion and humanity. The examples of emotional connection experienced throughout this pandemic at times of extreme hardship have rekindled a sense of community. The seeds of local communities coming together and helping our neighbours should give us all hope that this may extend across whole nations and the world. Who knows, maybe the lasting impact of this pandemic means that this dream may just become reality.