2020 has been a year like no other in most of our living memories. Covid 19 has reminded us that we are not rulers of the universe, nature is, and we are all fragile beings at her mercy. In spite of all our progress, the tools we have to protect ourselves are the same as at any other time in history – soap, water, masks and space. Our human need to gather together, to connect with others has been curtailed globally and we are all sharing in that; though not all sharing the suffering of loss, sickness and economic deprivation. Many have found they have less to do whilst those in key worker roles have never had to work as hard. We’ve realised which jobs really matter and it’s not the ones in the City! A lot of people are a lot poorer whilst a few are significantly richer. Whilst governments have tried to balance health needs with the economy they’ve found that the two cannot be separated so easily and the virus has stayed one step ahead. Countries that prioritised the health of everyone earlier have done better economically. The UK’s developing hospital crisis is not only a result of indecisive dithering about restrictions and lack of efficient testing for staff but also years of under investment and staff shortages. I fear the New Year will be worse at the start than anything we’ve seen in 2020. Successive governments disregard for the well being of the people has led to this catastrophe.
Our worlds have been smaller this year. Little travel, no gatherings. This enforced slower pace has it’s benefits though. More time with our immediate loved ones; more time to connect with nature, to bake, to read or just to be. We’ve seen people less but appreciated it more when we have. I’ve baked bread for the first time in my life and grown flowers from seeds.
As the new year dawns there is hope. The development of a vaccine in less than a year is truly remarkable and just shows what we can do if we work together. Could we do the same to tackle climate change? Global poverty? We could if we wanted to. The internet has allowed us to keep connected and for many, myself included, to keep working safely. Imagine a pandemic without it? Lots of community projects have developed to help and support others. We helped deliver 300 Christmas dinners and sacks of toys to needy families, individuals and care homes on Christmas Day – organised by one awesome guy in our area.
The pandemic has shown us the best and worst of humanity. We are not yet on the other side but my main hope for 2021 is that we learn the lessons we need to from it. I for one want a new normal; one where every life is valued and cherished; need comes before profit; nature is respected and love conquers hate. My mum tells me that every pandemic in history has brought significant social change afterwards. So let’s imagine and hope for 2021!