11 June 2020
Social Distancing in Cumbria
by Vic Leader
Almost three months since I locked down. The end of the period I expected to be ‘isolated’. So much has happened, and so little. For me, those three months have passed no more nor less quickly than any other. As mentioned before I have been ‘in touch’, but not touching, more people more frequently than ever I can recall.
This week I have ventured out into a supermarket and our village shop, mingled at distance with people I haven’t seen for some while, some never. It felt strange. These bodies which I would have been entirely comfortable to be near now pose a potential threat. That changed dynamic unnerved me for a brief while. It is the first time since I was a boy that I have been positively aware of an infection risk, which might have serious consequences for me. One day we may know whether that risk was (is) greater or not than in those ‘normal’ times we used to live in.
Stranger still, I have met with members of my family who I would normally greet with a hug. Children and grandchildren to whom I cannot get nearer than 2 metres let alone touch. I have had many virtual conversations and meetings with them, wanted to hug them but, it being impossible, moved quickly on from that desire. Now, being just two metres away, that was a torture of sorts.
But it was progress. The virus is still out there and, while the rate of infections has fallen from its peak, we are still reliant on a collective effort to minimise its impact on us going forward.
That collective effort was disturbed this week by, among many other things, “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations across the world, catalysed by yet another appalling incident of police brutality in the USA. In the UK the anger that unleashed has resulted in acts of vandalism. The demonstrations themselves bring large numbers together and threaten the Social Distancing, which has been a key factor in the fight against the virus.
Has that the sudden manifestation of an understandable anger been itself magnified by the effect of being locked down? I asked people to think; is this one result of that? If so then perhaps my hope that a time of change can follow is more likely.
There are many other causes that the Lockdown has highlighted, including: our inadequate social care system, the frailties of the NHS – not least poor requisitioning of supplies, the impact of pollution (blissfully reduced at this time with beneficial effects), the underlying mutual generosity of humans and how that is normally trampled upon, the relative intrinsic value of our activities versus the price we are prepared to pay for them. The list is endless, and some strategic order will need to evolve for dealing with them. But they will only happen if our passion for change is expressed collectively.
So please keep thinking, stay safe, and remain collected.