I WROTE earlier in the month that while the pandemic might bring out the worst in some elements of society it could bring out the best in some of us. We still have the worst of the consequences ahead of us but I am quietly encouraged by some of the things I am seeing.
Informal support groups are springing up all over the country as individuals take it upon themselves to offer support to each other, especially seeking out the most vulnerable. In these troubled times it is practical help that matters, not just exhorting others to do something. On Friday I made my first ever contribution to a Food Bank. If you are interested in doing something similar their website will advise on the highest priority items at any given time. There is an old fella on my street who lives alone and a note has gone through his letter box with my contact details.
Younger people are becoming particularly prominent in this crisis. I do not hold with the ‘snowflake’ sobriquet because it seems ridiculous to write off a whole generation on the basis of a few high-profile media examples. Those who have written off this younger generation are going to have reappraise their opinion based on the things that are now happening.
My mother lives many miles away and visits are difficult. She reports that teenagers on her street have offered to help with shopping. Other elderly relatives tell me of similar experiences. Moreover, some previously humble jobs are coming to prominence, particularly those in the food chain, most notably the supermarket. The girl on the checkout, the young lad stocking the shelves, have gone from anonymity to providing a life-sustaining service. At a time when many other workers are diving for the cover of self-isolation, so far at least these people are standing firm. Perhaps they are not on the front line in the way health professionals are but in their contact with the public they are not far behind.
What is happening in my view is that many young people are discovering a sense of moral purpose in their community and a significant degree of responsibility in society because other people are counting on them, and this is making them start to blossom. I saw a panicked old lady speaking to a young manager in the Co-op. He told her to leave him a list and he would have it for her in the morning.
Amongst all the death and tragedy that will come from this pandemic, some important positives will emerge and we would do well to hold on to them once the crisis subsides. Perhaps we are seeing the birth of a golden generation.