As Christmas approaches, I like many people find myself reflecting on the events of the last 12 months, only this year wondering how has Covid 19 changed the world?
2020. A year that changed us forever.
Nobody can argue that 2020 has been a strange and bizarre year.
Who could have imagined last Christmas the terrible and frightening event that was about to unfold in front of us and change or even threaten our very existence.
I don’t know of anybody who can say that the Covid 19 Corona Virus Pandemic hasn’t touched their lives in some way or other, or that it hasn’t changed the world
For many people it has meant tragedy with the premature loss of friends and loved ones. For countless others it has meant loss of jobs, businesses and severe financial hardship.
Many more have suffered illness like they’ve never experienced, and continue to do so as they struggle to recover from the effects the virus has had on their bodies.
But through all this we’ve also witnessed incredible dedication to duty, and people from all walks of life stepping up and showing amazing acts of kindness and social care.
Amazing people we have never met.
Countless millions of pounds have been raised to help those in need by people feeling a sense of humanity and a need to show resilience and compassion in the face of an unknown danger.
People that we will never meet in our lives have worked constantly and without thanks to research and develop a vaccine in an unprecedented time scale, while others have stepped forward to act as human guinea pigs in order to test the vaccine and save the world from the scourge of this virus.
More clever people have developed the logistics to get the vaccine out to hospitals and medical centres and worked out ways of administering the vaccine to people on a scale we have never known before, and a scale that most people could not comprehend.
On a local level, when people were afraid there would be mass panic in the shops and food shortages, our farmers and food manufacturers have stepped up to meet the needs of a nation in lock-down so there was no fear of starvation or deprivation.
The shops and supermarkets made sure they were fully stocked and we could shop in relative safety, while the staff showed incredible fortitude by showing up to work every day, even though they may have been scared to contract the virus themselves.
As a result, people showed kindness and patience. We started to look out for our neighbours and took the time to slow down and talk to people that previously we would never have bothered with.
People started to appreciate what they had in life, and most started to feel thankful that we live in a wealthy society that could offer support and protection.
Millions throughout the country stood on their doorsteps at 8.00pm every Thursday and clapped loudly showing solidarity and support for our NHS and all its dedicated health workers.
As a result we saw people we’ve never noticed before and waved at them from a distance, genuinely pleased to see them, and for them to acknowledge us.
Are we different now?
I believe the world is changing and that people’s attitude to life and the way we used to live is changing.
More important, I believe the direction we were heading is now changing, and that it’s a better course of direction for society and humanity.
I can best sum up the direction we were heading by a passage that I’m reminded of by a man called George Carlin.
For those not familiar with George Carlin, he was a foul-mouthed, opinionated 1970s American stand up comedian and social critic who specialised in offending people from all walks of life, race, creed and colour, digging out politicians and satirizing American society.
Yet despite the boorish front that he portrayed, he was incredibly philosophical and had the ability to observe life as it was unfolding.
This is what he wrote.
“We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get too tired, read too little and watch TV too much.
We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life.
We’ve added years to life, but failed to add life to years.”
Was this bleak path our destiny?
For me, what George Carlin wrote epitomizes the direction we have been heading since the mid-1980’s.
It was a pathway of extreme consumerism and buy-now-face the consequences later.
It was also a path of selfishness and a scramble to the top, irrespective of who was stepped on along the way. And it was obscene how we treated our planet, wildlife, oceans and forests.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting more and wanting better experiences in life.
The world is an abundant place with wonderful things and amazing experiences which should enhance people’s lives and be enjoyed.
Our planet and all it offers is there for the benefit, education and wonder of mankind, and we should embrace, respect and be in awe of this abundance.
The problem with the pathway we wandered onto has been with personal greed and how we treat others around us – our neighbours, our community, our society, and our environment.
There will always be problems, inequalities, injustices and slothfulness in the world. There always has been, and as long as humans dominate the planet, there always will be.
However, all it takes to make the world around us a warmer, caring and more inclusive place is the time to slow down, say hello, check on a neighbour or ask about somebody’s welfare.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much we amass, accumulate or rush around in some sort of achievement frenzy. Without humanity and these small acts of kindness, we will all end up in a lonely desolate place where nobody cares, and the world as we know it will be on a high speed race to the bottom.
Perhaps despite the suffering, loss and fear, this pandemic carries a hidden lesson, and one that we needed to learn again.
If society can confidently move forward with the incredible medical breakthrough of the emerging vaccines and the lessons we have learned to be kind to one another, then just maybe the coming year will be a brave new start and a healthier more rewarding society for all.
Let us all sincerely hope so…
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