I haven’t written a territory post for months, and frankly, I don’t think this is it either, but a few pretty pictures might lighten the mood a little. There is increased birdsong every day, and wrens, dunnocks, robins and bluetits are everywhere. My husband leaned out of the car window yesterday as we passed two bluetits apparently locked in mortal combat on the road and shouted at them to pack it in. They disappeared over the horizon like a couple of teenagers caught in the act!
Gardening has started, but really everything seems to have been sucked into the vortex of the pandemic. I’m not going to say much about it here – I’m sure everyone is following all the news as it comes in.
But I am seeing a vast change in perspective, not because anyone has fundamentally changed their nature in the last fortnight, but because it is suddenly important to say different things in our conversations with each other.
We are used to a culture where we focus on the individual (and so often on the individual solely as a consumer), on employment, with some very varied perspectives from a romanticised view of it as ‘working at what you love’, ‘living the dream’, ‘achieving your goals’, or pragmatically, as if being economically active was the only way to be relevant socially, and nationhood. Many of us have been worried about the return of fascism, or state-based oppression, but we might pause to realise that some employers can be much more ruthlessly demanding in terms of our loyalty and personal sacrifices than many states (and some states run in deference to those same employers). Society was becoming atomised, with people being subordinated to abstractions and faceless corporations, and sold personal choices that are only valid if they’re paid for.
If we were asked, none of us actually believed this for a minute. But the only legitimate discourses on the main stream media seemed to embody it more and more, as images supersede dialogue and interactions become more structured around the technical demands of the media we’re using. But now we are in a whole new world. With all of us ‘social distancing’, we not only realise the need for human contacts, for networks of help and support outside our own households, we realise the need to speak about them, to build and strengthen them. We are willing to speak up and to say that our front-line providers of food, healthcare, social services and public work are not just paid functionaries but valuable citizens. We recognise the flaws in being asked to trust the market to regulate supply and demand, and we are talking about how to give and share and create nurturing and supportive communities. We are not only experiencing our appreciation for arts and cultural activity, we are reading together, visting on-line musems together, learning to play musical instruments or speak new languages, and praising and supporting each other to do it.
Goodness knows how long this will last as we come out of this – I’m expecting a big rush of politicians and financiers saying we need to ‘get back to normal’ as fast as we can. I think we need to tell them that we’re in a new normal now, where friends, neighbours, arts and culture, a thriving ecology, social inclusion and compassion dominate our conversations, and community life, and we aren’t going back any time soon.