28 April 2020
Social Distancing in Cumbria
by Vic Leader
Halfway through? When my Social Distancing (“lockdown”) began the indication was that it could be for 12 weeks. I conditioned myself to that duration. The good thing about halfway is that, from now on, there is less to go than already done, a bit more of my self-psychology.
But this week has seen a growing impatience in certain quarters to get ’back to normal’. I understand that for most the lockdown bites harder than it does for me but we are all running a race, a long-distance race. Giving up part way through means the whole effort was a waste. The truth is that nobody, not even the experts, knows how long this race is. Neither do we know how it will resolve, economically as well as in health terms. The phrase “a new normal” has emerged and I think it wise to expect that to be different from the old one.
I have long believed in the damage caused by, as I call it, the Expectation Trap. Whatever we are doing, and whenever, the desire to pre-experience it by imagining what it will be like creates an expectation. Life does not really follow neat patterns; it is ever changing. So, although I do plan, I try to keep an open mind on what the next step will be at any time. In this way I mainly avoid the Expectation Trap. If ever there was a time this is useful, now is it.
I wonder how many of you are, like me, becoming increasingly irritated by the media. It is right to question and to highlight flaws in public life but to continually seek answers where there are none, and worse to suggest that there really are answers but they are being kept secret seems to me to be unhelpful. Our experts are saying that neither they, nor anyone globally, yet knows the answers to many aspects when it comes to this new virus. To be open about that lack of knowledge is unusual within the political context. So please stop asking for openness when you have it, even if you don’t like that fact. Distracting the public from the difficult task they have in lockdown is not helpful.
It takes me back to an earlier thought in this series: please grow up. Children ask questions that do not always have answers, as adults we need to realise that ‘we’ know far less than we think; get over it and move on.
I think there will be a series of modifying new normals before we get back to a stable one. And, also to repeat an earlier thought, what longer term normal do we want? Are we not enjoying life with less air pollution? Are we not learning new ways of functioning? Are we not finding new priorities in our lives? How much of that can we preserve, learn from, going forward? Might there be a political model based more on co-operation less on ‘party’ lines? It will depend upon a collective attitude but have we not shown that such is possible?
Once again, stay well, stay positive, keep thinking.