Saturday 4th April 2020
Two weeks into so called lockdown, we have several distinct groups of people, all struggling with their own personal and professional restrictions. The medics we all rely upon when we become ill are facing restricted access to safety equipment, or restricted personal freedom, zipped into a plastic hazmat suit for eight, nine, ten hours a day, fearing for the lives of their families, worrying about what they will be able to do, when the overwhelming onslaught of patients washes over their workplaces.
Food workers, delivery services, cleaners, porters, drivers, the very people our Government wanted to deport, or called unskilled workers, are keeping us all supported through their very essential work. Many of them must be somewhat aggrieved at the lack of extended paid holiday that other of their compatriots have luckily found themselves enjoying; Supermarket workers continue to face irate shoppers, and the risk of virus acquisition whilst similar staff in clothes and gift shops enjoy a paid break.
Many people are working from home, scheduling in virtual meetings, grappling with technology, school pupils timetabled with google classrooms and homework check-ins. All of us sitting, in our so called sanctuary at home, wired up to a machine, desperately trying to maintain a sense of normality, when really in the back of our heads, we are wondering whether what we do for a living really is important, or is it little more than a displacement activity in a world that has inexorably made many of its inhabitants redundant.
What does this current division of work say about us and about the way in which we have crafted our society? Humans are adaptive, taking the line of least resistance and even when we are faced with a challenging career, we often stick with the status quo because the prospect of leaving or fighting for better conditions is too painful. If there were divisions before between those who worked, and those who did not, between the state funded and privately financed occupations, between professions and jobs, skilled and unskilled workers, these divisions have not been alleviated by the current crisis.
Those still going out to work are exhausted, resentful of those at home watching box sets and learning to knit. The stay-at-homers are bored rigid, and aware of their perceived non essential contributions. The work-from-homers are trying to balance homeschooling with continuing workload, frustrated, short tempered with their offspring, nostalgic for the plethora of activities they relied upon previously in school holidays. It’s not much fun for anyone. If we are not on the front line, we are worrying about how to pay the bills and put food on the table. If we are not worried about that, we are panicking from a lack of time to process all that is going on, living on sound bites and Facebook myths. And all of us, in the deepest darkest hours of the night, when sleep will not come, cannot help but ruminate on what is to become of us. Where will this end?
Lockdown has polarised us; if we are not panicking because we cannot keep up with our lives, and the events dictating to us, we are struggling with time on our hands and no external stimuli or auto-pilot to support us as they once did. The often meaningless punctuation of our self important week has vanished. What percentage of our old lives was lived going from one thing to another, marking out the days in coffee stops, or meetings, looking forward to the evening glass of wine, the weekend, our next holiday? Just as our children need some routine to their lives, and our dogs benefit from daily walks and being fed at a set time, so we too function within a framework.
“We’re all in it together,” must be the most unhelpful phrase being used. We are not. Some of us are in it up to our necks, some wish they were, others are excluded from the current drama, considered non-essential. Some are struggling to pay for the food on their tables, others have not the time nor the energy to cook after long days in the most challenging situations. Those who can self isolate are not in it at all, and those who are in the eye of the storm might well wish they weren’t. Very few of us have chosen to be where we are, whether clinician, member of an at-risk group, paid to stay home and do nothing or juggling home working with pent up, frustrated children.
The Re-humanising Revolution is a blog written by and for anyone who feels the de-humanising effect of their life and wants to share ways of re-humanising life, through work, through relationships, through their actions.
Our curators occupy two very different positions in the new normal. One is in the front line of a hospital, facing all of the new and terrifying challenges and more, one of the medics for whom we are so very grateful. The other has had all her self employed educational work cancelled and is trying to make use of her time and her skills by tutoring friends’ children virtually. Humanity is facing one of its biggest threats ever, and whilst there is little of which we can be certain, we do believe that every humanising action, every connection, every kindness, will count as we move through this. We may not be in it together, but we can deal with it together.
Please do share your Covid 19 stories with us. All stories are published anonymously and we can add your name to our contributors list if you wish. It is important for everyone that we share this experience, if only to break up the divisions. Very rarely can we walk in someone else’s shoes, but we can listen, and try to understand how it might be for them.
Whether you are a clinician, a key worker, a stay at home, self isolating worker, a child, or from an at risk group, we would love to hear your story.