Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Us and Them during the coronavirus pandemic

Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

When the pandemic first hit last year, Britain was already becoming a divided place politically. Of course, there have always been opposing points of view and political parties vying for power but, for the most part, debates were generally good natured. And then the EU referendum happened and the opposing sides were called ‘racists’ and ‘snowflakes’, debate got more and more fiery. When the result to leave – a close result – came in, the temperature became even more heated. There were calls for a second referendum; political parties stood for staying in, another vote or leaving; there were arguments among families and friends. Brexit, as the referendum result was called, dominated the news to the extent that I am not entirely sure what else was going on in the world in those days. On the news in the evenings I could see EU protests behind the newsreader and at times I felt a sense of dread. People were very angry on both sides.

Photo by Anthony Beck on Pexels.com

And then Brexit was forgotten about as if by magic. A pandemic hit the world and the news focused on that. And at the start, apart from the toilet paper wars in the supermarkets when shoppers greedily bought up all the remaining toilet rolls, there felt a sense of unity (to me at least). This type of crisis had never happened before in our lifetime and although we were stepping away from each other on our daily walks in case of infection, there still felt a sense of camaraderie. There was a NHS clap on Thursdays, 8pm sharp; Captain Tom with his £30 million fundraising walk around his garden; morale-boosting dances on TikTok; volunteers helping out… We were on the same page at last. Or so it seemed.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Except a darker, more judgemental side to humanity started coming out. From the best of intentions, the NHS clap became an excuse by some ‘clappers’ to judge their non-clapping neighbours. And some of those who didn’t clap couldn’t understand what they saw as the ‘virture signalling’ of the gesture. Lockdowns had many controversies in themselves. Some people wanted to stay locked down until the virus completely went away. Others believed lockdown was unnecessary and wrong from the very beginning. There were bickerings about the lockdown rules themselves.

Photo by Bruno Cervera on Pexels.com

It became illegal not to wear a mask in certain places (unless people had an exemption). I had no issue wearing one although they did make my glasses steam up! However, some people had genuine reasons for not being able to wear one. I know a man who, when visiting a book shop, was asked if he had asthma attacks when he told the bookseller he had asthma (one of the exemptions). Rather a personal question – needless to say, he didn’t buy anything from that shop.

I came across a Mumsnet forum about masks on the internet. A victim of sexual assault wasn’t able to wear a mask as covering her mouth up brought back horrific memories and gave her panic attacks. This was no excuse for some of the virtuous members of Mumsnet though, who always wore masks to look after others. The sexual assault victim was being selfish of course, at least in their eyes.

Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

The latest bone of contention are the vaccines. I’ve had both so am no anti-vaxxer but believe that people should have a choice as to what goes into their body. But there is talk about vaccine passports (maybe it’s fine for big gatherings, if it’s on a strictly temporary basis – such as during an emergency, and there is an alternative of a test, but what if this isn’t the case?) I am no conspiracy theorist, but I do think that while we may currently accept we’re living in unprecedented times, we should always be aware of potential slippery slopes.

I have a friend who is reluctant to get a certain vaccine because there have been blood clots in her family and there have been reports of vaccine-related clots. She decided to wait until another vaccine became available. A very valid reason but I suspect she too feels judged.

Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

A lot has happened over the past year. Some people have died, have suffered, are still suffering from the illness itself. Some are vulnerable because of health conditions and are frightened of getting Covid. Some haven’t been able to see their loved ones for many months because they live far away, in another country, or maybe they’re in a care home with strict rules. Lockdown isolation and loneliness has damaged some people’s mental health. And then others have lost jobs, businesses, wages, homes… And then there are those who are terrified of us all gradually slipping into a dystopian society. Who would have dreamt two years ago we would have accepted lockdowns? It would have been unheard of!

I read somewhere, we are all in the same storm but we’re in different boats. We all have our fears, but they may be of very different things and unfortunately there seems to be no one-fit-all solution. One person’s answer (lockdown) may feel like a recipe for destitution to another. Another solution which aims to save jobs (ending lockdown) may feel like inviting death.

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Like Brexit, it often feels that society is becoming divided into ‘them’ and ‘us’. The non-mask wearers, mask wearers, vaccinated, non-vaccinated, the pro-lockdown, the anti-lockdown, the old, the young … Instead of an intelligent and measured debate, both sides resort to name calling – the sheeple and the covidiots. The lockdown lovers and the granny killers.

Like Brexit, why take part in a reasoned debate when you can call each other names like five-year-old children? When did life become so ‘black and white’ rather than have nuances of grey? I have been guilty of this way of thinking too, judging and making assumptions. I have also changed my mind several times over the last year. Covid has really made me realise how different all our lives, priorities and fears are. Same storm. Different boats.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

There is a lot of division, hatred, fear and negativity in the world right now. It doesn’t have to be this way, in fact, in shouldn’t be this way. If humans are supposedly intelligent enough to fly into space, why can’t our species actually talk to each other, listen to each other and work with each other? Imagine what we could do with a little more cooperation and a little less judgement and hypocrisy? End poverty, stop persecution, hatred and wars, solve the climate change crisis, protect our vital natural wild spaces, save endangered animals from extinction..?

Live in a more peaceful and contented world?

Maybe it feels natural to fall back into our tribe mentality, especially when we feel fear, but I don’t think that’s good for our health. Which is ironic during a pandemic.

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues

Our World: Covid litterbugs

DSC_3142

It’s 2020 and for many, the world has changed – and yet some things, some people, remain the same.

There have always been humans who throw their litter on the ground, heedless of the fact a bin is just around the corner.

Is it stupidity, for not knowing how to use a bin? Is it arrogance and rudeness? Maybe both?

But my earlier hopes that this pandemic would inspire people to have more awareness and respect for the environment was expecting too much from some members of the human species, it seems.

Now these litter bugs have a new item to discard – used face masks.

Why put it in a bin when you can leave these single use plastic items, covered by germs (maybe of the virus itself), on the ground for wildlife to harm themselves by eating, a child to stumble upon, or a cleaner to have to pick up?

Face mask litter

There are many mysteries in the world and the logic that goes on in the minds of these Covid litterbugs is just one.

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Coronavirus Diaries: Stay Safe, Stay At Home

pexels-photo-4031867.jpeg
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

I wrote this post on May 9. Since then (June 6), lockdown has eased a little and we can now meet others outside. I met Simon for a walk half way between our two counties and my friend Caroline for a ‘social distanced’ cup of tea in her garden.

The worst thing for me personally are the negative feelings. Thankfully, these are always temporary and don’t last long, my wellbeing is generally okay, but I am aware that the pandemic and lockdown must be affecting many people in so many adverse ways.

If you’re suffering from mental illness and need help, please look up a mental health charity/services based in the country you live in and get in touch with them for advice. (For the UK, there’s https://www.mind.org.uk)

coronavirus
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

May 9: Many of us around the world will be going through a weird dystopian phase right now thanks to a virus. In Britain, we are currently in lockdown, it has been called a ‘soft’ one as we are allowed out for exercise.

Even though this is supposedly ‘soft’, this is affecting people badly in so many ways.

In Britain we have a slogan – Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. I am working from home but for broadband reasons I work from my parents’ house. We are effectively two reclusive households (living two miles apart) behaving as one.

black and brown desk globe
Photo by Bruno Cervera on Pexels.com

I go to the small Tesco convenience supermarket about 8pm, it’s quieter then. I have walked the family dogs, Teddy and Molly, in quiet country lanes and in suburban settings, moving away from passers-by – and they from me – as if we all have the plague.

I haven’t seen my partner Simon for nearly two months. A long-distance relationship of ten years, we usually meet every three weeks. I think, hope, we can survive this uncertainty as a couple.

I stay in touch with friends via texts and messages. Maybe I will get the hang of video hangouts one day.

I spend my weekdays working and my weekends with my animals, reading through my To Be Read list, working through a course and writing. There is the decluttering which I keep putting off but needs doing as well…

IMG_20200606_113727
My lockdown pile of books

At night, I have started having wistful dreams of visiting secondhand book shops and going for a swim. Choosing a gym.

I am having flashbacks of previous weekends away and holidays, days out and meeting friends and family. The fear of climbing down Helvellyn and other mountains (and the exhilaration afterwards) and the simple pleasure of a pot of tea in a village cafe or browsing in a book shop for an hour.

DSC_2287

I miss seeing Simon and my friends.

Having the freedom to go places without stressing about social distance or ‘is this even allowed?’

I’ve worked in a precarious industry for years so job uncertainty has always been the background for me – but I always thought if and when I got made redundant, there would be other jobs, other opportunities.

Now I’m not so sure.

pexels-photo-4031867.jpeg
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Seeing my parents, being around my animals, keeping in touch via technology, nature, reading and writing keeps me going. Being an introvert and happy in my own company helps.

But this is only my story, how are others faring? So far, this virus and the lockdown hasn’t touched me too badly compared to others. Others have died, lost loved ones, lost jobs or businesses… This pandemic will hurt many of us in some way.

The irony is that I felt last year went too fast, I wanted it to slow down. 2020? I can’t wait for it to be over and normality to return.

 

 

 

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Coronavirus

coronavirus
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

One of the things which is helping me through this strange time is nature. Watching the starlings frolicking about on the lawn and great tits move in and out of their bird box in my garden, presumably feeding youngsters, has helped me appreciate the simple but important things in life.

Ironically, nature is (unless you believe in the 5G theory or that the virus originates from a lab) also the cause of coronavirus.

It is my belief that cruelty to animals and a total contempt for nature has resulted in coronavirus.

The ‘wet markets’ are absolutely horrific from what I’ve heard. They sell dead and live animals in closely confined spaces and the animals are butchered on the site. These markets are extremely cruel – there are no animal welfare standards – and unhygienic. 

Is it any wonder that interfering with the natural world has resulted in this catastrophe?

person holding petri dish
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Scientists all over the world are working on a vaccine.

When there will be a vaccine, I don’t know, but in the meantime many of us are suffering.

We have either suffered from coronavirus itself; know someone who has had it – or even died from Covid-19; are stressing about our jobs; missing our freedom and loved ones; suffering from domestic violence, family tensions, a decline in mental or physical health … The list goes on.

pexels-photo-4031867.jpeg
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

My fear is that, for as long as we humans interfere with nature, these viruses will continue to grow, mutate and spread. We are supposed to live alongside nature, not destroy it. I wonder if this attitude of contempt will eventually destroy us, the human species.