“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
These are strange, troubling and challenging times. We will all find ourselves tested in different ways whether we are one of those front line staff feeling exposed both in terms of their own health but also what they have to deal with; whether we are faced with being alone for long periods of time and the anxiety this causes; whether we are concerned about our livelihoods, our families and our futures. We will all respond differently and find our own ways to cope.
For me, this is a period of transition, a period to re-evaluate many things. I know I’m in a privileged position. I have the luxury of being able to work from home, and it is luxury. I work for a large organisation, am paid very well, and for the moment am not worried about my income. I have family and friends who aren’t in this position. My health is generally good and I’m not in the high risk age group. Again I have friends and family who do have health issues, who are in the high risk age group and I worry about them.
But in all of this I have a deep conviction that we are at some sort of pivotal moment in humanity’s history. We have the opportunity to change things like never before, if we can just look outside of our immediate worries and concerns.
I’m not a religious person in the normal sense of the word but I have a deep belief that we are subject to the forces of nature whatever they may be. We see it all around us if we but looked. The impact of the phases of the moon on tides, plant growth and our own mental health; the power of the wind to affect our climate, the shape of the land; the impact weather can have on our food production and the safety of our homes. The impact we in turn are having in our environment, our world. We are but one species living on this planet but we dominate it, we act as if everything around us is for our benefit, we are entitled to do with it as we with and everything is beholding to us.
I really believe that this virus that we are struggling with, which has impacted every thing person in the world in some way is the world taking back control. I am fully aware that this sounds a little wacky but it’s a overwhelming feeling that has been growing in me.
We abuse our planet, our environment. We consume, devour, destroy, neglect every aspect of the world we live in and at some point the excesses of humanity will be challenged. Balance needs to be restored.
We pontificate at about the environment, about climate change. We postulate with targets for change, deadlines, we impose monetary penalties, we point at others to do something. Whilst at the same time we continue in our daily lives telling ourselves that the tiny, and sometimes begrudging changes we make, is us doing something to change the situation and we are doing our bit. We aren’t.
I’m no saint. I drive a petrol car, I’ve just come back from a holiday in Madeira on a plane (full of scared and anxious people), I buy food in plastic packaging, I buy too much stuff and I waste too much stuff.
But now change has been imposed on us and not by our governments, despite what they think, its because we, each one of us, wants to survive this period. We are forced to stay put, to buy less, to manage on what food is available. Choices are being made, priorities reassessed and change happening.
Already our environment has improved. The pollution levels are dropping in places like Beijing and nature is benefitting, the quality of the water in the Venice canals which is now clear enough to see fish. This period of humanity being halted in its excesses may just be what the world needs to stop us destroying it.
For me the challenge will be what do we do once this period is passed however long that might be. Do we go back to our old ways of greed and entitlement or do we learn, change our habits, become a better species that fits into the world’s s eco-system instead of trying to control it.
I truly hope that I will be a better person, change my ways and learn to tread lightly on this planet.