May 9, 2020- By Cassie Grace
As lockdown drags on, Cassie Grace takes stock of the state of the nation, and asks whether this crisis will bring about unity or sow further discord.
COVID-19 is undoubtedly a world crisis, and I can say that with absolute authority because even Donald Trump agrees. In such times of uncertainty and calamity, it is very easy to lose ourselves in the narrative of the doomsayers, those who would have you believe that there is no end to this struggle. That we will remain trapped indoors for months to come, becoming more and more like Gollum in his cave with each day, and that we will emerge from our homes as fundamentally more cynical, less social and more divided people can seem grimly inevitable.
I have no doubt that we will prove such doubters wrong. We will once again join together as the socially awkward nation that we are and I am confident that no matter how long we have spent apart, we can and will easily return to the tried and tested topic of the weather, that old chestnut of a conversation starter that always has your back and never ceases to amaze. Our social skills will be fine. Nor do I believe that we will emerge hissing at the sunlight, because quite frankly we didn’t have much of that to begin with.
What concerns me more is how this crisis will bring out old divisions. There certainly seems to be a risk that the political handling of this situation, whether you agree or disagree with the government’s approach, will open up painful old scars and simply serve to pour salt on the still gaping wound that is Brexit. If you are pro-Conservative, then Boris and his cabinet are doing an excellent job in what are undoubtedly unprecedented times. If you are anti-Conservative then this is the ultimate demonstration that they have bled the NHS dry, with its lack of money, PPE and ventilators leaving it vulnerable to such outbreaks. If you were a Leaver in the referendum, a vote that now feels like a lifetime ago, then you think that stricter border enforcement would have prevented its spreading. If you were a Remainer, you think that the EU could have provided us with an army of equipment and resources with which to fight this battle, whereas now we are rather more like David facing a very big, very scary Goliath.
The support for our NHS and essential workers has been unparalleled and honestly quite unexpected.
Indeed, much has been made of the reports that England has been forced to ship in Romanian fruit pickers to fill the jobs that English workers claimed were being stolen from them by immigrants but now that they are available won’t touch with a barge pole. Rather than focusing on moving forward and attacking the virus together, such a decision seems only to act as another arrow in the Remainers’ quiver.
Of course, this cannot be said of everyone. Many people and initiatives have brought a tear to my eye with their hopeful optimism and dogged pursuit of unity. The support for our NHS and essential workers has been unparalleled, and honestly quite unexpected. Videos of London, an entire city, coming together to applaud and shout and bang pots and pans to show their gratitude demonstrate that the famous British pride and compassion is continuing on stronger than ever.
Social media campaigns and concerts such as ‘One World: Together at home,’ recorded in the homes of the celebrities themselves, not only provides a fantastic glimpse at the best that real estate has to offer but also shows how effective entertainment can be as a relief from troubled times and minds, reminding us that Britain is not alone in this fight. Captain Tom Moore proved that heroes don’t always wear capes and that they certainly have no retirement date either, doing 100 laps of his garden and raising a spectacular £32 million for the NHS.
And my personal favourite; the rainbow initiative. The odd house out is now the one that doesn’t have a delightful rainbow stuck up, becoming a symbol of hope and support and more importantly brightening up my essential outings. Rather than divisions, this is the attitude that I hope we will leave lockdown with, a new appreciation for our communities, our friendships and our workers and a sense of camaraderie. My own rainbow, sadly, may never hang in the Louvre, a great insult to my hard work and talent- it took me all of five minutes with some dubiously coloured and definitely deceased pens. However, it serves as a daily reminder that there is an end in sight and that, in the immortal words of High School Musical, we really are ‘all in this together.’