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  • Lawrence Bailey

We may be apart but we’re not alone

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

It’s been a tough year so far. With parts of the planet catching fire, storms and floods at home and now a global contagion, I can’t help thinking that in another age the portents would involve locusts and frogs. Strange though isn’t it? We’ve come so far and achieved so much in the last few millennia. Yet it takes something as small as a microscopic virus to expose our fragility as a species.

The paradox for the human race is that whilst we're genetically programmed to cleave together at such times, the official advice is that we must all endure this trial in isolation. The restriction is aimed at promoting the greater good but that is of little immediate comfort to the lonely, the frightened and the depressed.

Each day brings a new prohibition as the nation prepares for a tsunami of infection. Despite best endeavours, our political leaders manage to look slightly less leader-like with every press conference. That’s hardly their fault. The data keeps changing and the scientific advice changes with it.

We’re all doing what we can to cope. In the Bailey household, things are inconvenient but manageable. A couple of holiday breaks booked to coincide with a special birthday have been cancelled plus some other minor stuff and that’s about it.

I admit to having a just brief wobble though when word went out that elderly neighbours are most at risk and I realised that I’m among the oldest around here.

I’m not critical about anyone panic-buying; it’s an understandable reaction. Everyone’s anxious and anxiety leads to irrationality. You’re not alone in having a spare pack of toilet rolls stashed away in the airing cupboard.

The moment however that we knowingly strip shelves at the expense of people in equal need then I’d respectfully suggest we run the risk of becoming a rather worthless lot.

Equally, I'd rather switch off the television presenters who have slipped into the role of self-appointed health expert. Ditto for the tabloid press who, as ever, think the job is about semi-hysterical headlines and then reporting on the public alarm they helped create.

The fundamental financial misery of all this cannot be understated. Jobs and livelihoods are at risk with many already badly hit. There is no sector or industry left unaffected and it’s a moot point as to whether the level of government aid announced so far will be sufficient, or even arrive in time.

Things are moving in unprecedented direction and it's safe to say that our concept of ‘resilience’ has already been modified in ways we never imagined through even the most outlandish scenarios.

We’re understandably looking to science to eventually dig us all out of this mess. I’ve no problem with that, but with current estimates suggesting that a mass vaccine is about 18 months away, we should prepare ourselves for significant lifestyle changes in the interim.

Even when it’s all over - and we can't afford to even consider any other outcome - things will never be the same.

Safeguards and screening for infection will be as embedded in our lives as other pre-travel checks. To some, it already feels that the world has become too small. The inevitable is that controls introduced during the crisis could well remain in place long after the contagion has been defeated.

For all the fear that pervades the prospects of coming months, I'm encouraged by the thoughtful acts of kindness and bravery shown by people.

I’ve lately found myself sharing nods and smiles with people in supermarkets. I think it’s some form of mutual reassurance that we’re all hardwired to exhibit in such fearful times.

Anyway, in much the same way I'd like to think that we can go some way to tackling this 'distancing' thing by making social media become a bit more social. In checking up on each other from time to time, we can acknowledge that while we may have to be apart, we don’t have to be alone.

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