War in my lifetime

War in my lifetime

“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” George Washington

We all knew we needed to make the world simpler. More local. Less greed. But could we really have imagined before the last few weeks how this would transpire? Humans are best while reactive.

It’s our consciousness that sets us apart from other species. But I often wondered has the gene skipped a few beats?

So it took a virus. Our own perceived importance. And a fair degree of panic to ground the planet. Stop our over complex lives. We’ve seen the best and worst. I made sure my own larder presses were filled three weeks ago. Knowing panic buying would set in and so it did yesterday. I found myself in a supermarket with bare shelves. Buying a few forgotten items for my parents. Feeling prized to buy the last small bag of flour for us to share. The woman working the checkout apologised for the delay and I told her I thought she was coping remarkably well in the madness. She laughed and explained it’s been like this since first thing this morning. “The funny part is I only have one tomato and some ham left in my own fridge.” I offered concern there’d be nothing left for her. She assured me there will be another delivery in the morning. I hope she’s managed to stock her own fridge now.

I joked yesterday as the country closed that people were developing my life. No travel. Working from home. Simpler. Calmer. Meeting people in open spaces for walks. Working online across great distances. At last glimmers of inclusive online interactive education. It makes no odds to me – most who get me are located outside Ireland online. My life doesn’t really look much different. Except now I’m not writing to you from a cafe. I tried earlier in the week but I was so distraught at the lack of care to hygiene I left. I wanted to help keep them open – but not at the cost to my life or others dear to me.

But I’m lucky. My life has already been set up for this reset button. A friend wrote to me yesterday; “introverts have been in training for this for years.” His families life doesn’t look any different today than last week either.

I wrote to another this morning explaining I feel like a proud innovator. His response “Innovators always await their time.”  Watching a teacher who did my training, nearly 7 years ago, answer other’s queries on how to make remote learning interactive for really young students. I was more worried about the way the question was put – “how do I work with younger people, for the older ones they can just read on in the books?” The answer made me sucked punch the air. It made 11 years worthwhile in a flash. The response listed all the simple skills at home from cooking to games. This week, I and the teachers I’ve worked with have watched educators grapple to come to terms with what we’ve been doing for years now. I think this is the reset switch I’ve been waiting for. Education will never be seen the same again. It won’t seem strange for me to sit in Ireland and work with people across the globe. It’ll not be questioned that you can “tell enough about them.” Everything I’ve done is now normalised. And the best bit – I wanted parents to feel in control of their child’s education once more. They are since yesterday in Ireland. I’m sure that seems daunting but it’s a change that needed to happen. Families now feel involved once more.

And we’ve not even touched on the diminishing pollution, the lack of travel, the sudden need for less – except the basics. And now we all have a value once more for the basics. How long is it since we’ve felt real gratitude? And our consciousness has been rebooted. Your actions affect everyone. That’s the message over and over. How many people have campaigned for free open health care as a right? How many have seen the need before these weeks? This is humanities reality check.

Of course, there are deep economic consequences on the way. But you know – I can’t help feeling the gap there is going to look a little different too. And if you don’t travel. If you don’t need a holiday from your life. If the world of the future for your children suddenly has different needs. Will there not be a saving? When you go out for coffee you’ll know exactly what you are paying for – someone else’s freedom. You’d forgotten the chain. The links within humanity. Maybe you never even considered them before?

I knew live through a war in my lifetime. If this is it? I can cope. So can you.

Naoisé Friday 13th March 2020

Featured on Motherwell Magazine