Over the past week my phone has been filled with people’s lives going back to normal. It’s all freshly dyed hair, dinner and drinks, and spontaneous holidays. I scroll and see nothing but smiles, faces relieved that this period of boredom and monotony seems to be drawing to a close.
Quarantine gave me no choice but to reflect on how good I have it. What a privilege it was to be bored because I was not forced to juggle work and caring responsibilities. What a blessing it was to have fun because I am not grieving a loved one. What a stroke of luck it was that my family was not one of the thousands that have been struggling to make ends meet, because of or exacerbated by the crisis.
What a privilege it is to turn on the news and not see people that look like me being murdered by the institutions that are supposed to protect them. Or to go online and not have violence, ignorance and hate hurled your way. Or to go outside and feel safe walking the streets with your family. To learn about systemic inequality, rather than having to navigate and survive it throughout your life.
There are scores of people that both governments and ordinary people across the world seem to have failed and forgotten. We must not forget that there are people suffering through this pandemic in overcrowded and underequipped refugee camps. Or in temporary accommodation with no funds. Or in homes that are unsafe. Or without a home at all.
Covid-19 has highlighted how fragile our system is. Inequality in Britain is far from new, but the last three months have made the problem of poverty (and its intersection with gender, race, and ethnicity) undeniable. The pandemic heightened existing issues across the globe as countries and communities seemed on the verge of total collapse. Not forgetting the background of the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China, devastating war and famine in Yemen, and ever-worsening climate change.
It was great that we clapped for carers and posted about Black Lives Matter, but we cannot let that energy disappear as we rush to return to reality. We should not let our pride at perfecting banana bread stop us from recognising the shame we should feel at the state of the world. Boozy brunches are great, but they are not a fundamental human right. The window to build back better is closing rapidly, and it would be great to see sustained commitment to making sure this chain reaction of disaster is broken.
I hope the decency and community spirit I saw throughout quarantine is not reserved for the tragedies on our doorstep.