The hardest thing will be when it is no longer a crisis and it is just what is left behind.
When flood waters come to a community the flood waters do not come alone. So also come the TV crews with their waders to interview homeowners in their sodden, stinking homes. So will come minor Royalty with a practiced careworn frown and, eventually, will come a Prime Minster swooping by in a bullet proof car, firing off blank promises. When they are gone, what lingers is not a warm glow of care, but broken hopes and the hanging tedium of despair.
In a post lockdown world, the flood of uncertainty and the agony of grief will subside; and what we will be left with will be the biggest challenge of our lives. A challenge where we must try to care and not leave others to despair.
We have built temples to the billionaire gods of market forces on a flood plain of greed, but I hope we will not do so again. I hope that paying taxes will be seen as the privilege of our working lives. Every penny paid creating the wealth to build the legacy of infrastructure for the next generation to come.
I hope we will do more than blindly trust our politicians, caught in their scramble to be popular once every four years, to invest our money in things where the value will only appear long after the expiry date of their careers. Of course we need to build trust in them, but we also need to build a trust fund for our society.
I hope we will embrace the need for an international effort requiring unprecedented levels of contribution, shared risk and cooperation. We cannot socially distance from other nations.
I hope good governance, sustainability, investment, equality, community and fairness will be at the heart of how we judge success. I hope the way we behave towards each other with small acts of everyday kindness, will be valued far more than self-aggrandising gestures of celebrity capitalism.
And I hope, emphatically, we will joyfully accept a collective responsibility to ensure that every life counts.
This is not about trying to build a land of fairy-tales – businesses will sometimes fail, families will sometimes fail, and leadership will sometimes fail too. Life is hard, BUT we can do better.
When we are better with purpose, better with care and better with accountability, then the direction of travel will be good enough. Perfection can wait, today is our commitment to take one better step at a time.
This is not meant to sound like an idealists’ charter. A few words on Linked-In are easy, and ideas are cheap, but implementation is key. We have to see that building (and running) a business, creating work and wealth, is an amazing challenge that should be respected and rewarded. However, we must also see that paying tax is the reward for our good fortune, not the punishment.
We must take a collective pride in building our society in the same way that stonemasons took pride in building cathedrals they would never see finished. We must value more the engineers, the scientists, the artists and the thinkers, as well as the millions of doers who keep everything going. We should see the public sector as the foundation for all our protections.
We should ask of everyone, literally everyone, “what can you do, however small, to make this better?”
And for those for whom their illness, infirmity or disability makes this seem impossible, their contribution, vitally, will be to hold those of us who are not yet ill, infirm or disabled to our promise that every life counts.
When the wave of this crisis and the pain of our loss subsides, as it will, we have a chance to build our future. A chance that has not happened for any generation for seventy-five years.
What a time therefore to be alive. What a time to honour the memories of those we have lost and who so sadly cannot share this responsibility with us. Will the grown-ups in the room please stand up, it is our time to lead.
Take care x