The best and the worst of us

Let’s face it, there are some pretty tough things happening at the moment. There’s a killer virus, people have died, the economy is struggling and we don’t know what the future holds. There are also the smaller tough things which are hard to bear, the queues at the supermarket, the schools closed, summer holidays cancelled.

But amongst that there are some pretty good things too. Long sunny days (Even if we do have to work/home school), more flexibility, less commuting, less school runs, less mad dash between after school clubs and play dates.

And alongside this mixture of bad and good, hard and easy, fun and painful rubbing along together there is also the best and the worst of people. We’ve so many examples of the best of people – from the small things like rainbows in everyone’s windows to the charity fundraising, the volunteers, the donations of food to the NHS, the notes through neighbours doors…I could go on. People have made incredibly difficult decisions like isolating away from their families so they can continue to work, putting themselves at risk to care for others and going above and beyond their job role for the greater good. And those people who have made their work freely available for others to share, for comfort, encouragement or learning. These things are incredible and have left a legacy. We know that faced with an immense challenging times that humanity has an incredibly capacity to respond compassionately.

But we’ve also seen the more difficult time of people. People losing their temper in supermarket queues, people arguing with police officers, breaking rules, telling tales on each other, causing trouble, exploiting people’s distress and vulnerability. As I walked past my local co-op today I saw a sign taped to the railings asking people to be considerate to staff who are working hard to ensure we all stay fed. It’s a shame that we need to have such a notice up at all. And I know that there are workplaces where existing tensions have been amplified and new conflicts have arisen too.

People who have been working hard and are tired and strung out are more likely to be grumpy. We’ve all been there before. People who are home-schooling their children, simultaneously working and not sleeping so well on account of the hot weather or the killer virus are not the calmest of people. People who’ve gone to all the effort of knitting a rainbow and then are abused when they go to work are likely to be more than a bit annoyed.

So what?

Well, there’s no easy solutions to dealing with life in the midst of a global pandemic. Life will be tough for a while, and all of us will find that hard at some point. Understanding that will help. It will help when someone is angry in the supermarket. It won’t make it ok, but it might help you not to respond in a way you might regret. Understanding they’re having a bad day/bad pandemic might help you to find some compassion. It might help you through a difficult time. It’s ok to find it hard sometimes and sometimes others will too. It makes sense in this world we’re living in.

And let’s hold on to the good things and the good in people. That’s where hope is to be found.

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