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14.05.20 – Darrell Priestley

A lot of people I speak to say they want things to go back to normal. That’s understable. But let me ask you this – how good was normal for you? If there is another side, the one where you come out of this unsettling chapter of our lives, it may be very different indeed, and we might not even recognise it. Alternatively, it could be all to familiar. But which would be best?

Imagine that you have stepped into the tardis with the good Doctor (Who). The familiar sounds start up, and you have tingly palms as you race towards an unfamiliar destination. All you know is that, when the doors reopen, you will be looking at some other place and time. Or imagine you have stepped into a giant centrifuge, whirling and spinning on it’s axis in both space and time. Suddenly, a portal opens and you are flung out at random. Where are you now?

Last night I watched a CNN interview with economist Mariana Mazzucato, in which she called for a more inclusive, sustainable economy. She says ”There’s no thinking. Let’s just do it. We don’t have a choice.” Though her focus in the interview is principally on the US, her points apply equally to everywhere else. We are all on a shared journey, as recent events ably illustrate.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, normal for many of us was simply routine. Where money allowed, we might prioritise our children’s education, but we were on the treadmill, caught up in our own lives, and with less sense of others we meet and how much they enrich out own experience.

Then the virus, and suddenly we all stop and take stock. We start to see the person who delivers our order, the person serving us in the supermarket or answering our query while stocking the shelves. We start to think about the person handling our enquiry when we call a service company, working at home with their dog barking and children playing in the background. People, just like us. We now turn out every Thursday evening to applaud not only our NHS workers, who we belatedly realise are awesome, but also other vital workers on whom we equally rely.

A lot will need to change to make a better future for all after this, but make no mistake that should be the goal. A future where we respect and value one another. A life shaped not by austerity, but enriched by our appreciation of what it is to be one amongst many. I am describing hope – let us never lose that.