BY DON HALL
THOUGH the rising number of deaths and the sadness they have brought to so many families are its most tragic aspects, there is a growing feeling that, despite its many challenges, Covid-19 could be good for us all – in the longer term.
All around us, we see and are experiencing many of its beneficial aspects. People are kinder towards each other. Families have become even more closely knit. People who hardly ever take exercise are now out walking, exploring roads and meandering along laneways they had often planned to take but never did.
Whilst enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the countryside, even the most athletic have time to take it easy and view the animals in the fields and enjoy the chirping of the birds in flight.
Most evident is that wonderful sense of community that has sprung up from the realisation that, because Covid-19 is no respecter of age or class, we are all in the one boat, all equally challenged by the same enemy. What a wonderful sense of team spirit that has brought.
If only for the present, Covid-19 has rekindled a sense of neighbourliness that our elders often said was lost as we went chasing after the Celtic Tiger.
Will this spirit endure after a vaccine is found and the dreaded bug has been defeated? If it does, what wonderful benefits will it bring as a result?
Hands up those who have had their peace disturbed by the roar of airplanes in flight. Peaceful, isn’t it? Even road vehicles have become less evident, less invasive than they were before.
Might we have learned a lesson from these facts – it being that we don’t always have to live our lives at hectic speed? And might there be something in the lesson that will bring about a drastic improvement in that other deadly condition that confronts us all – climate change and global warming?
At home, we see great changes in how we all behave. With restaurants and pubs and places of sport and entertainment all closed, families are being forced to entertain themselves and conjure up their own solutions.
This has led to a boost in sales of jigsaws and other board games, and the emergence of other family-focused outdoor pursuits.
In the kitchen, we are learning how to cook-it-ourselves and enjoying the experience. Meals that were previously only a take-out call away, are now being home-made from that recipe book that, until now, had been gathering dust on a shelf.
These and numerous other beneficial spin-offs include a keener focus on garden maintenance and home improvements. But, the picture is not a totally rosy one!
Internationally, the sacred cow of EU ‘togetherness’ is fraying at the edges as some member states focus on their own needs and interests without care for others. A sense of ‘what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own’ has taken hold.
Excellent as Government’s communications have been, one cannot also escape the view that we are all suffering from an attack of ‘information overload’. How often have we thought to ourselves: ‘No, not again ... we’ve got the message!
There is a risk that a compliant public would become fed-up and start rebelling – a fear that could lead to a wider breakdown in discipline should An Garda Síochána become heavy-handed in policing the present stay-at-home regulation.
Before sitting down to write, I received a social call from a doctor friend in Drogheda during which he asked: ‘Do you remember the great flu epidemic of the late-1950s when thousands lost their lives here?’
‘I confess I don’t, even though I was old enough to live through it,’ I replied.
It was a conversation that helped me see Covid-19 and what its place in history will hopefully become. We will survive it, and hopefully emerge the better for it ... more tolerant, relaxed and understanding, and less greedy and demanding.
Interviewed on television, former British programme presenter and advocate on matters affecting the elderly, Ester Rantzen, recently made this appeal to politicians: ‘Would you please say something that will cheer us up?’ A truer word was never spoken.
Despite its importance, is it possible that politicians would break away from the ‘doom and gloom’ and dwell awhile on matters that will cheer us up and give us hope? With our clergy released from duty due to church closures and suspended services, the belief and wellbeing of the faithful is one aspect of Covid-19 life with which God might welcome a little bit of help.
Taoiseach and Ministers take note!
• Don Hall is a director of Hall Public Relations, who spends much of his time in West Cork.