Saturday 11 April 2020

Lockdown Day 19 - cycling again, future directions

Well, with today being a sunny and warm day, it was time to get some decent exercise again. We are lucky in that pretty much whichever direction you head from our house you can get out into the countryside and quiet roads very quickly although quite a lot of other cyclists had the same idea today, but it is easy to keep distance on roads with virtually zero traffic.

There was plenty to look at and hear as we went along. A good number of skylarks and chiffchaffs, linnets and other finches, as well as a single tree sparrow.

The hawthorn blossom is coming out as well as bluebells, buttercups and wild garlic in the woods and verges. We came across what looked like a fairly recently excavated entrance to a badger sett into a banking at the side of the road too.

My thoughts at the moment are turning to how and when things might return to some sense of normal. Even to the point of wondering whether they will. With no real prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine for 12-18 months for everyone, and with what will be a cycle of lockdown and periods of less stringent measures, the sense of what will survive this dislocation in terms of business, food production, educational methods, and environmental impacts is unclear. This is without even going into the human cost of all of this both on those that have and will sadly perish and those left behind, and indeed the impact on those that care for the sick and dying, those who stand to lose everything they have worked for and that they hold dear.

Without fundamental changes, our society is very fragile. Many political elites only serve themselves and those who fund them, the excessively rich hide their wealth. Many people are unquestioning of a diet of self-reinforcement of prejudices and hate and don't think beyond easy slogans and empty promises made at election time, and, to them, the vacuous stream of reality TV and celebrity gossip is often more important than the real issues in our society. Supply chains break easily, what is in good times almost taken for granted, the ease with which consumer goods, food and other commodities can arrive at their destination just in time or within a day of clicking a mouse button. Those who struggle to feed themselves or can't find work, or have disabilities that hamper their lives are demonised as a whole based on a few rogue examples splashed across tabloid pages, and their lives are made harder and hungrier by a system that just ticks boxes and creates more hoops no matter how many times one jumps.

Can we build a better system, a more caring society, a more equal, tolerant one where all are valued and rewarded for the essential nature of their role to others, rather than one where going to a particular school, knowing the right people in the establishment, pushing the right buttons on a keyboard in front of a trading screen gets you ahead no matter what the cost to others?

Can we capitalise on the benefits of a low car use economy, where remote working is the norm and pollution and emissions stay low? Can we remodel our consumption into only buying what we need rather than what we want and producing those items in an environmentally friendly and low emissions manner? Can we keep the customers using the local businesses, those with connection from farm to fork, those that serve customers not shareholders?

We have an opportunity here to remove the obstacles to that better future. The way is hard. The cost is great and much suffering is yet to come.

If you have read this far you probably have some affinity with the sorts of future systems and practices and political structures I am talking about. These things are possible and we need to mobilise whatever connections and outlets we can to bring this better future about. Don't be afraid to write to your elected representatives, join campaigns, get involved in community and environmental projects, raise concerns and work with others. Look at what you consume, evaluate what you need, what matters most in your life, what you can grow and provide for yourself and re-use and recycle. Support those in need how you can, with what you can. Use social media for good and drown out, block and report the nastiness and hate on and off line, call out the micro-targeting and misinformation. Invest wisely in those companies that seek to mitigate climate change, produce environmentally friendly products, support local communities and treat workers ethically. Don't be afraid to question, to challenge, to correct with facts.

It is do-able. Vested interests will seek to block, to delay, to water down, to silence and slander those who put themselves forward to make a better, fairer, more environmentally friendly future, but there are successes, there are positive changes that have happened that never seemed possible ten or twenty years ago.

We have this opportunity for change, not a situation you would wish on anyone, but there's hope too that it can be the catalyst for a better future for all of us.


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