As we all enter the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, stories and statistics are emerging that shock and trouble us all. Businesses, shops and schools are shuttered or open on a shoestring, millions of workers are laid off and our society is adjusting to a new and troubling reality.
Comparisons are being made to the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 and other past pandemics. COVID-19 and its effects and its seemingly unstoppable spread consumes virtually all our newscasts and has become the most discussed topic on social media worldwide. If the coffee shops were open, it would be the topic of conversations there as well.
COVID-19 is now top of mind to us all. It is apparent in the barriers and locked doors and the plight of unemployed people. But it’s also there in the paper hearts placed in window fronts and it’s there in the faces of our children and grandchildren who need to know that we are trying our best to keep them safe.
In a circuitous way, comparisons can also be made between the current situation and the people who lived through the horrors of the London Blitz of the Second World War. London was mercilessly bombed for 57 nights in a row beginning in the fall of 1940 and bombing continued nearly every day for 6 long months.
Residents went to bed knowing that at some time during the night, sirens would wail, and you and your loved ones would make your way to a bomb shelter and shiver in the dark until morning, at which point life would begin again.
The fear of your block, your house and your family being bombed out of existence was constantly on people’s minds. It was only through the stubborn attitude of the British people and the inspiration of its leaders that prevented a decay of society into anarchy.
People who lived through that horrible time told us that the things that got them through it, the things that enabled them to get out of bed and put one foot in front of another for those horrible months were the same little things that hold a society together. Little gestures like civility to each other, kind words, playing children and singing together in the darkened shelters.
While we can’t go to the pub, and in some cases our children can’t play with other, we can still have the civility and the respect to follow rules put in place to protect us and the people who have to be out there on the lines every day. We can be kind to each other and think twice before sending out a bitter tweet or post.
We can help each other; we can call each other and ask how they are doing, and we can hold our society together until this thing becomes, like the Spanish Flu, part of our history. We need to follow the rules of staying home and social distancing as well as avoiding needless risks of spreading the virus.
As our grandparents learned during the war, it is the smallest things that make the biggest difference. The Blitz spirit and its legacy can be summed up in that still famous motto “Keep Calm and Carry on”
Be kind to each other, we are all in this together and this too, will pass.