While the last few months have been unprecedented, scary, challenging and disappointing, they have also been a time in which we are all starting to learn what a better world looks like. Here is what I have learnt:
Firstly, the world is a much better place when we are kind. When we show consideration to others and offer what we can, whether that be time, donations or food, everyone benefits. You can have an impact on your local community in some way, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be something big. My local community centre has been organising for people to do food shops for those who are vulnerable and shielding during this time. In addition, the simple act of visiting someone or having a chat on the phone can help them to feel less alone.
Something else that has really hit home is that we need to fully appreciate what we have. I don’t think I appreciated how fortunate I am, especially at a time when so many people are going through hardship and loss. Furthermore, this appreciation of what we have is key to knowing what needs to change. For example, appreciating the NHS has made people realise how much we need access to free health care. Being thankful and showing our appreciation to God for all these things is key to realising what needs to change in our society.
With this, I have learnt that inequality, poverty and injustice are not only issues in third world countries. They happen in developed countries as well. The recent Black Lives Matter protests have revealed that this form of injustice is ongoing and widespread, and it needs to stop. You may be surprised by how much poverty is closer to you than you think – people living on the streets, having to rely on food banks, or perhaps not having enough money to pay the bills. Poverty comes in all forms and is not limited to less economically developed countries.
However, a reason for hope is that an individual can make a difference. Look at Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who took the matters of our climate into her own hands and has gone on to inspire millions. More recently, footballer Marcus Rashford was able to convince the UK government to provide lunch vouchers to families of children eligible for free school meals during summer holidays. His letter prompted them to do a U-turn on what they had said. I find this massively encouraging, offering proof that we as individuals have the ability to make change possible.
Lastly, and most importantly, I do not want to go back to our world pre-virus. I want a better world. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see people again without worrying about social distancing, to have shops and other services reopened, and be able to do all the fun things we used to. However, the inequalities exposed by the pandemic have made me realise that we all need to be actively working towards a fairer world. This looks like being considerate and kind to one another, reducing our impact on the climate, influencing others to live more ethically, and overall being people of justice.
Only in doing this can we create a better world following the pandemic, and only in doing this will the devastation of this time have been a force for some positive and necessary change to our society and world.