Things we won’t miss from last year:
The Rule of Six • Self-isolation • ‘Stay alert!’ • Tiers • Superspreaders • ‘Hands – Face – Space’ • Virus Clusters • Contact-Tracing • Redundancies • Elbow-bumps • Furloughs • Padlocked playgrounds • Five-person bubbles • Lockdowns • Pie-charts • ‘R-rates’ • Empty streets • Empty shops • Empty pubs • Empty theatres • The cold stink of hand-gel • Facemasks that steam up your glasses • Zoom…
But in spite of everything, bad times brought out the best in many people – as often happens. And we all realised that the best-paid don’t always do the most important jobs.
As a result, Key Workers gained long-overdue Respect, and Communities everywhere were reinforced by Thursday night displays of appreciation of them.
Also, the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Mutual-Aid’ emerged to offer a way forward. It wasn’t all bad.
Sunrise today marks the beginning of shortest day of the year. From now on, they get longer, and the nights get shorter. It is a day which has been celebrated ever since the first Stone-Age scientist realised its significance. It meant we could now roughly calculate how to share our food reserves to make them last until Spring. We were reminded of the Summers when the living was easier, and looked forward to them.
It was a time of Hope, because even if the nights were still cold, we knew from the position of the sun that there were better times coming soon. That Hope, based on Science, helped to keep us working together to make the most of the future, rather than fighting each other for the last stores of nuts and dried meat.
Without it, the idea of society would have been almost impossible. The same Sun shone on us all, as it still does.
This midwinter, we don’t have the same hopes as Cavemen. But we have just as much reason to believe there is a future. And we have proved this year that we have the same ancient ability to support each other through dark times – that helping each other works.
Hopefully, Science will soon have partly solved some of our most immediate problems. And then we can carefully try to start living again, and be able to shake hands without fear.
However, Science alone cannot repair the economic damage done by the Pandemic, or help with Britain’s undoubtedly uncertain future in a world already facing huge environmental and economic challenges.
One thing is certain. The various problems next year throws at us will be easier to bear if we look after each other.
Because if we don’t, who will?