Article for Battle and Blog - LibDem Perspective
Count Your Blessings
"Count your blessings" has seldom been a more challenging but necessary exhortation. I am writing this on a wet dismal morning, with family Christmas plans ruined, most travel disrupted, a fresh (hopefully very temporary) blockade at Dover, and Covid and Brexit uncertainties clearly carrying over well beyond New Year. Many of us have experienced deaths, Covid, and redundancies amongst our friends and families. It's certainly easy to feel sorry for ourselves.
But if we take a step back, by any objective measure, most people reading this have so much to be thankful for. We all live in a beautiful part of one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We are not living in constant fear of warfare and terrorism, albeit that we are not immune to those dangers. Unlike millions of decent hard working peaceful people in the Middle East and so many other places, we have not seen our homes, families and cultures destroyed by conflict. Unlike the USA we discuss our political differences without resorting to heavily armed and uncontrolled militia, and while many of us disapprove strongly of our electoral system we do not cry 'foul' when we lose.
This is not to say though that there are not enormous and unacceptable inequalities in the UK. It is a national embarrassment that so many people are having to rely on the outstanding work of the Foodbanks and other voluntary organisations at a time when our media regularly report highly lucrative contracts being awarded to political cronies with minimal scrutiny. The Government's uncoordinated response to the twin-barrelled threats of Covid and Brexit renders all aspects of planning almost impossible. The old military saying that 'no plan survives first contact with the enemy' does at least require there to be a plan in the first place.
Gloomy as all this may seem, for most of us, most of this will pass and we must remain positive. Happily acknowledging my Battle-centric perspective, it is immensely encouraging to see the number of businesses in our town either newly established, or in the process of preparing to open. Support for our High Street amongst local residents has never been stronger with many retailers reporting good sales, and a level of customer loyalty that encourages them to weather the current Covid storm. That means more local jobs for local people and less travelling around. The Covid vaccines are coming and we must all 'double down' on following the rules and staying safe. While 'zoom' cannot replace a grandchild's hug, many of us have found the virtual world has actually increased the frequency of contact with family and friends. And of course there is the promise of some semblance of sanity returning 'across the pond', with particular consequences for climate change.
So, away with gloom! Spare some time for lonely neighbours and some food or cash for Foodbanks and the homeless. Treat yourself, look after yourself, and just remember all the good things in life. Why not try following the example of Ian Dury and listing those 'Reasons to be cheerful'!
Happy Christmas and a better New Year,