Lockdown: Have we learnt from the past?

September 23, 2021

As we come out of our third and most deadly lockdown in theUK, my reflections on the last year have shifted from transitory leadership learningsto much more fundamental societal perspectives we should take into the future.

For most of us in the middle-class west, our collectivereality since the second world war has been relatively stable. In the landscapeof history in fact, that period was the longest period of peace and prosperityin documented history. Other than the handful of us that have experiencedterrorism, war and personal misfortune, our underpinning contextual reality hasbeen stable. This is probably one of the reasons that this period has come assuch a shock, and collective resilience tested to the core.

During the 1919 pandemic my great grandparents suffered theloss of two daughters aged 9 and 15, dying 3 weeks apart. My family kept thedeath of the older sibling Dolly a secret from the 9-year-old Lily as she laystricken on her own death bed with Spanish flu. The manifold tragedy of thisfamilial legend is now brought into stark relief in our current reality. I havethought long and hard about why I lacked true reflection on my great grandparent’sloss given the relative short period between my great Aunts death and my birthonly 56 years later. My Aunt carries the name of one of the children that died,a memory of a sister long lost. Despite this it never crossed my mind to lookat what happened to them or think about the societal earthquake that caused it.

It seems our connections to generational perspective hasbeen lost somewhere along the way as we too quickly move on from the traumas ofthe past and imagine they could never happen again.

The internal reverberations of the last 12 months forgenerations that have known nothing, but stability is significant. Ourcollective perspective of continuous growth and progression has been rocked tothe core, even though it is a very recent economic perspective.

The failures of our economic models, and how transitory theyappear faced with this reality should be something we take note of, but weshould also acknowledge the reality that so many of our fellow citizens haveco-existed with this kind of fearful transience for generations regardless ofglobal events.

Our middle-classness should take note of this. The rhetoricwhich has evolved through the media, particularly in the last 20 years aboutthose that do not keep up with the Jones’s, the disparaging judgemental enforcementof power through government policy and social systems to those groups isshameful. We have acted as if resilience and success is about meritocraticcause and effect, we can all see no its much more linked to contextual opportunitythan we would like to think.

Without social connection our opportunity and mental healthdecline significantly. When there is nothing to do and no where to go, we alleat and drink too much of the wrong things to get through the day. We can allsee much more clearly now that loneliness and disconnection is a killer thatcomes in multiple forms.

So, what should we take into the future from this time?Hopefully, a little more compassion for the context and perspective of others.To listen to the experiences of those that have gone before us and realise thatcircumstances can derail the best of us. To ensure we continue to rememberthose who will carry on being trapped in isolation and reduced opportunity whenCovid is long forgotten. Whether that is a carer who has no choice than to notwork but care for a loved one, or an older person suffering with cripplingloneliness due to bereavement, at the end of the day we are all a product of ourtimes and our circumstances, it is clearer now though that some of us are justluckier than others.