Wednesday 1 April 2020

Will anything positive come out of this dreadful crisis?

As a writer I'm in a unique position as I always work from home anyway. Not being able to visit my beloved husband is heartbreaking, not being able to see my son and daughter-in-law and grandson is equally hard. However, I've written a book in just over three weeks which will be published next month.
People my age, the crumblies of the world, are the most vulnerable to this horrible disease but we're also on a fixed income which isn't affected by the lockdown. I'm fortunate indeed to have a state pension, a teachers' pension as well as my writing income. I live in a comfortable brand-new bungalow with a lovely garden and neighbours across the mews who will buy anything I ran out of.
I can't imagine how hard it is for those whose income has been either reduced by 20% or vanished altogether. How does a homeless person manage? How do those whose income relied entirely on selling the Big Issue manage?
Also the children will fall so far behind with their education it might be impossible for them to catch up especially those at secondary school with exams to face. Families are now locked in together spending every waking hour under each other's feet – small wonder people are predicting a massive rise in domestic abuse and also in babies in nine months time.
I'm lucky I can keep sane by writing. Most people who are self isolating don't have that luxury. Depression and mental illness is going to be as a major issue in the weeks to come.
Will the world change for the better once this is over? I doubt it, but hope to be proved wrong. I think the gap between the haves and have-nots will widen, millions will be pushed into the poverty bracket and many things we have taken for granted will no longer be available to us.
There are, of course, thousands of stories about people going above and beyond – not just the amazing frontline people in the NHS and so on – but ordinary people helping out quietly, making sure their neighbours are safe and well.
In Venice because the tourists and cruise ships have stopped the canals have now got dolphins and fish – but the city relies entirely on tourists for its income so as soon as the restrictions are lifted things will revert.
Over China the ozone layer is repairing itself because there's been no fossil fuel run industry – which shows that the environment could be saved. However, I'm certain once the virus is defeated China will go back to polluting the atmosphere.
I'd like to think that people will reflect on this pandemic, value the small things in life again, be kinder to each other, be less wasteful of valuable resources – but the realist in me thinks this highly unlikely.
What do you think? Will this catastrophe leave the world a better place or is the worst yet to come?

Until next time
Fenella J Miller