By Helen McCormack
So - imagine all, or even some, of the great outcomes from this pandemic: The most global one in history, the Coronavirus, the one to crown all others.
Well, I´m in a battle: The Optimist is fighting the Skeptic. (Gosh, I´ve just written it with a k instead of a c. The c looks weak whilst the k is held up with a support to make its presence felt...) The Optimist says we have all been humbled, the big and the powerful, the aristocrats and the plebs are all equally attacked by the Coronavirus. The Sceptic says - Yea, but that will not bring about greater equality; as soon as the red flag drops, the solidarity and equality will be buried under the scramble of the ambitious to get back on top, to secure a lifestyle where they will be shielded from unexpected shocks and threats and the determination never again to be found bare-arsed with no loo-paper.
But, the Optimist cries that now, as never before, we perceive the globe as round, we are all linked in this adventure of life, which, at the bat of an eyelid, or just a handshake, becomes Death. We need each other.
The Sceptic says, "It has all happened before" : "WW1 and WW2, the ´29 Depression, the more recent Madoff Ripoff etc. and the Weak fall down and the Stronger survive and climb over them.
The Optimist argues that never before have we been so inter-linked: a sneeze in China leaves the West snuffling into their elbows. What we need are sensitive, intelligent and informed political leaders who will think globally for the good of all. The citizens must realise they have a voice and demand politicians who are not consumed by navel-gazing and their narrow party politics. They need to have vision beyond their party "clan" and concentrate more on the rights of all to have minimum economic security that would allow for greater wellbeing and imagination in the adventure of daily living.
I had two aunts who lived in London during WW2. Auntie Kath said the war brought out the best in the civic community; she even enjoyed the camaraderie of doing rooftop vigilance duty. I was always fascinated by the hole in her beautiful walnut headboard. "Oh yes," she´d say, "that was some stray shrapnel."
She told us about our Aunt Nora, younger and more recently arrived to London who, on the first time she heard the warning sirens, grabbed her case and dashed down to the Underground. After the "all clear" and back in the hostel, she opened the case to discover its sole possession was a hat! The Sublime and the Ridiculous of war experience! Yet, after all the slow-drag of rationing in post-war Britain, the country did change: The N.H.S. and Social Welfare showed a Before and After. People´s mentality also changed and the terrible class-system frayed a little to allow greater social mobility, and women´s access to higher education and the professions widened greatly.
The Optimist hopes for wider horizons for all after this global lockdown. Let's listen to John Lennon´s voice before he was flattened on the N.Y.C. pavement and join in: "Imagine all the people …"