Amongst the dark clouds …are a few silver linings
We should of course look for silver linings in the dark cloud of this emergency. It has brought out the very best as well as the not-so-good in people. But the best seems to be winning. And we’re winning other benefits too:
- Less carbon emitted to our atmosphere which is great for combatting climate change. Nature is given a chance to recover and build. Less air pollution which is good for asthmatics and other respiratory conditions. And we can enjoy the sound of tranquility in a usually frantically restless world.
- The Government may even now genuinely recognise the true value of our NHS (not just as a political football) and ought never again allow it to become so understaffed, under-funded nor preside over unprecedented bed closures all of which has placed staff under so much pressure.
- We appreciate the true value and no longer take for granted the work of others – not just in our wonderful NHS, but care workers, grocery and other retail workers, refuse collectors, teachers, delivery drivers, food producers…
- NHS and social care staff now have the free parking they should have been entitled to . Let’s make that permanent.
- A greater respect for science. Experts are back in vogue.
- Anti-vaccine campaigners have gone very quiet and are now praying for a vaccine.
- The government seems suddenly able to find the money to home the street homeless after all.
- Right-wing newspapers and public who criticise foreign workers are now pleading that they stay – to support care services, our hospitals, produce our food. People realise 1 in 8 NHS staff are from overseas. In social care and food pack houses the ratios are even higher.
- Government has woken up to the benefit of Public Health whose budget it slashed and of medical research which had been quietly run-down since 2015.
- Treasury “Golden Rules” – used to justify the dismantling of many public services – are the first thing to be broken as the Government faces a pandemic which would not discriminate between them and us.
However, on the deficit side it’s been disappointing to witness:
- The quick-to-judge self-appointed Kangaroo courts of public and social media opinion.
- The easy acceptance of fake news and
- The lazy assumption that there’s an army of selfish panic-hoarders out there – when, if we’re honest, the reality is we’re all having to gather more stores than usual; not just because of the uncertainty but because our children don’t get school meals, we don’t eat out or buy take aways and all those meals have to be produced at home.
And it’s been upsetting and disappointing to see that nastiness hasn’t gone away. Only this week I witnessed too late a family with small children evicted from their long standing rented family home into a caravan and uncertainty, while the cottage itself is being marketed towards second home buyers.