Global circumstances have arranged themselves into making us think differently. Hand sanitiser has suddenly become a hugely sought after commodity. We’re assessing the health of people around us and where that puts them on the hierarchy of vulnerability.
Ironically, given that the advice is all about isolation, the virus guidance has also forced us to face the community around us. We can’t drift along, pretending that our actions don’t impact those around us, or theirs don’t affect us. Our actions could have a potentially life-threatening effect on the immune-compromised members of our society. Having spent decades trying to shore ourselves up against the risk inherent in appearing vulnerable to others we’re now having to rely on ‘the kindness of strangers’.
This is mindfulness writ large. Thinking about avoiding crowded spaces, we turn to smaller independent shops. Rather than making lazy online purchases from a big supplier we’re now thinking more tactically, about which retailer is more likely to have run out of an item. What we also should be thinking is ‘do I really need this at all?’
As supplies run lower we may consider ordering bulk items as a street. Social media’s already being used by small businesses to organise shopping for those isolating, with one vehicle collecting shopping for three different addresses. We’ll see first-hand that an order from us could literally save a failing small business.
No more environmentally unfriendly short hop flights to meetings that we know in our heart of hearts could always have been done remotely. The question “do I really need to…?” will be asked a lot more, and maybe it should have been asked more all along.
As many of us know from our own grandparents, the frugal habits of rationing in wartime remained with many people of that generation for the rest of their lives. They could not break the habit of avoiding waste and fixing things rather than simply buying new.
Who knows what will stick after the crisis is over? Which behaviours will remain with us? However minor the changes might be, it is reassuring to think that some good may come from this.