If there’s one thing that stands out from the Coronavirus Lockdown around the world, it’s the way people are banding together and supporting each other. Not everyone of course. There are still a few people taking the mickey and going surfing in New Zealand or wandering aimlessly in parks around Britain, and I’m sure many other instances of people burying their heads in the sand and pretending this is all ‘blown up out of all proportion’.
Our experiences here around Nantwich are of folks seeming happier than usual. Saying hello and smiling as they pass by. Making eye contact. Appreciating the weather. Our neighbours Plum, Julia and Dave are a delight. we look out for each other. When one of us goes to get water or food, we ask the others if there’s anything they need. We feel comforted that we’re all in this together.
Today I read a blog post by George Monbiot. I ‘discovered’ his words during last years election and was smitten with his wisdom, knowledge and compassion for the earth and humanity, and am now a subscriber. I don’t ‘follow’ many blogs. His latest missive is called ‘A Zombie Love Story’, and I was astounded by his collation of a vast amount of information from around the world, of ways we’re coming together. Not politically, because we were drifting apart precariously before COVID-19 appeared on the scene.
“Governments whose mission was to shrink the state, to cut taxes and borrowing and dismantle public services, are discovering that the market forces they fetishised cannot defend us from this crisis. The theory has been tested, and almost everywhere abandoned. “The horror films got it wrong. Instead of turning us into flesh eating zombies, the pandemic has turned millions of people into good neighbours …”
“A thousand books and films and business fables assure us that the fairytale ending to which we should all aspire is to become a millionaire. Then we can isolate ourselves from society (which is, after all, the purpose of extreme wealth) in a mansion with high walls, with private healthcare, private education and a private jet. The commons envisages the opposite outcome: finding the meaning, purpose and satisfaction that amount to a good life by working together to enhance the lives of all. In times of crisis, we rediscover our social nature.”George Monbiot
Once again, it’s not about how much wealth we can acquire that’s the root of happiness and fulfilment. In fact, in most cases, I suspect it’s the cause of UN-happiness instead. Have a read of Life squared ‘The Millionaire’s Story‘ from 20011. A poignant read put together nine years ago now. At least maybe the lessons are finally being learnt? Maybe?
“More importantly, although we’re all different, it seems that for many of us, we don’t need extreme levels of wealth to get the life we really want. Some of the things that seemed to be most important to our millionaire were their relationships (which they mentioned a lot) and things that related to having time rather than material possessions – for example, time to relax at home with their partner and dogs, or time for cooking, reading and photography. These are priorities that you don’t need much wealth to enjoy.”Life Squared The Millionaire’s Story
Our Good Neighbours
Today Dave took his boat to Nantwich to fill up with water and get some shopping. He’ll get some bananas for me – I have withdrawal symptoms without a banana a day (no rude jokes thank you!). On Saturday we got bread and chocolate for Dave, Plum and Julia. Plum sold us a brazier that we’ve been relishing sat out in the evenings in our little ‘garden’ area, and a cast-iron pot for cooking all manner of things on. He has joked to Barry he’s going to find more things to sell to him …
Let’s Hold Onto What’s Bringing Us Together …
I’m going to leave with some more of George’s words …
“There is no guarantee that this resurgence of collective action will survive the end of the pandemic. We could revert to the isolation, embarrassment and passivity that both capitalism and statism have encouraged. But I don’t think so. I have the sense that something is taking root now, something we have been missing: the thrilling and transformative force of mutual aid.”George Monbiot
And to say Barry and I have reported no symptoms again this morning to the COVID-19 Symptom Checker.
Keep safe everyone. Keep looking out for your neighbours. And hold onto the ways we’re all realising ways to come together now and in the future.