What a crazy couple of weeks! It was just 3 weeks ago that I wrote my blog about our perspective when looking at the coronavirus. Now it seems that I could have been accused of playing the whole scenario down.

This week saw a catalogue of closures and increased restrictions on gatherings and movement. Since my last blog, various countries have declared a state of emergency as their health systems buckle under the pressure. On Friday I waved goodbye to classes not knowing when I would see them again. The world seems to be grinding to a halt. There are various levels of panic buying coupled directly for public shaming for those panic buyers. It’s a bit of a mad time! A Facebook post I saw the other day reminded us that the clocks go forward next weekend then suggesting that they were put forward about 4 months.

The events of the last few days have been astonishing. Most notably was Boris Johnson’s announcement to close pubs and restaurants. This didn’t come as much of a shock, what did come as a shock was the response on Facebook. My Facebook feed was littered with people posting photos of themselves in pubs going for ‘one last pint’ as well as reports of pubs using this opportunity to drop the price of their drinks to encourage more people to come in. I was really quite surprised by all of this. An A & E nurse from Northern Ireland summed it up perfectly in one of her social media posts, she said “your actions today will directly affect who I see in Intensive Care beds in the next few days”. This is our chance to, as Boris keeps saying, turn the tide on this virus, yet for a few people it’s a chance to show how tough we are.

I saw a story recently which summed up my sentiments on our reaction to the coronavirus, I’m not sure whether the anecdote is true or not but either way it is a great illustration. The story is of a sheep who escaped from his pen and evaded the farmer. The sheep continued away from the farm and off into the mountains. After much searching, the farmer wasn’t able to find the sheep and decided to count his losses and concentrate on reinforcing the fence and looking after his remaining sheep. As the lost sheep continued wandering in the wilderness it grew it’s wool out, and with no farmer to shear the wool, it grew to an almost unmanageable length.

When the sheep had grown so much wool that he could barely walk he began to stumble back to the farm. When the farmer looked out and saw this huge ball of wool stumbling towards the farm he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  He was certain that the sheep would have been attacked by wolves and killed out in the wilderness. The farmer ran out to the sheep and when he got to the sheep he saw a few lacerations and teeth marks in the sheep’s wool but no serious injuries. It then dawned on the farmer why the wolves had not killed the sheep. Every time the sheep was attacked the wolves could not get through the thick fluffy wool that the sheep had grown. The sheep had survived, not by being tough, but by being fluffy.

In this time of uncertainty, the best way for us to protect ourselves and those around us is not by being tough, by throwing caution to the wind and not caring, but by being fluffy and soft. Showing compassion to those who need us most in this time, going the extra mile for the people around us who may be scared and vulnerable.

I, like many, have been impressed with the Prime Minister and the way he is leading us through this ever-evolving situation. I have also been hugely impressed with the chancellor Rishi Sunak. He is calm and collected and working for the good of the nation. During the briefing on Friday he said these words, which I feel perfectly sum up what our response should be.

“Now, more than any time in our recent history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion. Our ability to come through this won’t just be down to what government or business can do, but by the individual acts of kindness we show one another”

In this uncertain time, let’s be overly, outrageously, exceedingly and immensely compassionate. I don’t know all that much about the genetics of coronavirus but I do know a few things that are more contagious, they are kindness, grace and compassion.

Stay safe everyone!

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