Is this a time where we reset society, community behaviours and personal growth?
I have heard many far-fetched conspiracy theories about how this crisis has come about but today I had a new one that I actually liked the sound of… what if this has been designed by some greater power to help us reset as a community and as an entire race?
Positive thinking, not fear of the apocalypse
‘She’s finally lost it’ I can hear you say, but hang on a minute let’s have a think about it. The ongoing narrative over recent years has been one of division and bigotism; the rise of the right wing, Brexit, Trump, war and genocide.
At times my fundamental belief in the good of humanity has been massively challenged. How can it not be in a time where groups like the EDL can feel appropriated and the leader of the free world is an orange-faced self-confessed sexist elitist bigot?
Yet I always had faith that somehow the truth would out, that the just would prevail… that there would be a swing back to the left after this extreme swing to the right.. “There always is” I kept telling anyone who would listen, mainly myself.
And here we are facing what I think might be a swing not only that we see in this country but that actually sweeps across the world. We’re all saying it… right now we all feel like the major characters in the disaster movie. The average family that the narrative follows who start the film playing ball in the garden and end up crawling in the undergrowth fighting zombies to try and save the free world.
My prediction isn’t that we’re facing the apocalypse however (which i know will be a disappointment to those of you who have prepared for that with an escape bag… Something I discovered that is fairly common!) but that the world is about to change in ways we can’t imagine.
Survival: We’ll get through this together
Firstly, this virus isn’t selective or prejudiced. It’s affecting nations across the globe in exactly the same way. In that sense it’s actually a complete leveller. Whilst we’re all focused on keeping our loved ones safe, keeping our jobs and praying the economy won’t tip over, the terrorist agenda seems to have gone completely silent, The Russians and the Arabs have stopped their recent fight over oil, there’s no Labour vs Tory agenda.. Everyone is in the same boat.
What’s more, if the experience of friends abroad, particularly in Hong Kong and China are anything to go by we are facing weeks of lockdown. That means no dinner parties, movies, theatres, bars, pubs, clubs, lunches, coffees, shopping, eating out… Not even visits to relatives and friends. And this could feel incredibly isolating.
Community, home network and being connected
Yet the sense of community is absolutely unprecedented. Neighbourhoods are pulling together in a way we’ve never experienced. Technology is enabling us to connect and share our thoughts and fears and take action to save those more vulnerable. We, for example, have lived in our street for six years and know the names of probably 5 neighbours on a road of maybe 80 houses. This week we have formed a Whatsapp group and it’s quite remarkable to feel part of such a united effort to stay safe and positive. I feel so connected, safe and proud of the fact that we are pulling together to help protect anyone in the street who might be struggling. I have no doubt it will fundamentally change how it feels to live here. Forever.
People are also working hard to find other ways to stay connected, My Whatsapp groups are going absolutely crazy. Most of them are networks of people who love and support each other at the best of times but currently the levels of care, responsiveness and encouragement is just incredible. People and communities are organising virtual cocktails, happy hours, exercise classes on hangout, karaoke on zoom and Netflix parties. These events will become our new social life for the foreseeable future.
Positive thinking and the joy in the little things
And when this is all over.. those things that have until now been life’s simple pleasure, the nights out and the browsing round the shops, will feel like complete and utter luxuries. Rather than complain about the slow service or the chipped wine glass… we’ll be open-mouthed in absolute awe of the fact that we’re out of the house, sat in a restaurant with someone bringing us food… After weeks of only cooking whatever we make for ourselves. And if the shelves are anything to go by, that will have been a lot of pasta! (Not lasagne though… notice there was loads of lasagne sheets left. Love how lazy our nation is that even in a pandemic no-one can be arsed to make a whole lasagne!).
When this is all over I am convinced we will appreciate the tiniest things…The commute to work, being able to hug, having a reason to blow dry our hair, popping over to visit our relatives and friends or simply being able to sit in a bar drinking cocktails, laughing, chatting and being able to touch each other without fear!
Time for personal growth
What’s more, if we are sensible, we should also come out of this time having achieved some personal growth. Think about all those things you wanted to do but never had the time… learning to play the piano, speaking Italian, doing yoga, reading all those books you bought but never read, meditating, running… cooking a lasagne! Well, we’re about to be given a whole chunk of time back to do those things. So rather than sit around dreaming about how amazing it will be to get out for a cheeky Nando’s… let’s make sure we do it!
For those of us about to be home-schooling our kids (god give me strength!) we can use this as an opportunity to really nurture and develop them, in ways that school can’t. Teach them sewing, ironing, car maintenance, to play chess, to mow the lawn, to do the macarena! For example, my husband and I have set ourselves a goal to get our 3 year old reading by the time this is over.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I am somewhat of an optimist.
Having said that I am not relentless in my glass half view of what we’re on the precipice of… I do have massive wobbles, mainly when I’ve been watching too much news and it all feels too overwhelming, I have an ageing mother-in-law with diabetes and asthma and everywhere I look there are small business owners like me who are wondering how we will come through this. But we are all in the same boat and the government won’t be able to stand by and let most of the population descend into bankruptcy so there will be a plan. At some point. And we will come through this as a community, China is evidence of that.
And I do have this belief that there will be some fundamental shifts in our society that can only benefit us and our families, communities and nations.
So stay safe, keep yourself busy and positive if you can, and let’s all look forward to that cheeky Nando’s and (more importantly!) having karaoke and cocktails face-to-face.