When this lousy war is over...*

Have you ever noticed how many of society's great challenges are likened to a war? 

There's the war on cancer, the war on illiteracy, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, and most recently the way that our national (and international) response to Covid-19 has been compared to the second world war. I get the association with us all being in it together and the importance of community spirit, but does it do us a disservice?

Does this mindset galvanise us into action or does it give us a distorted perspective on the situation? We can't just throw money (the weapon of choice) and resources at this and expect a swift 'victory'. And while we're on the subject, how does the association with war affect those who have seen military service in the past? 

Certainly, we all need to play our part by following the simple rules devised to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and thereby reduce or delay the impact on finite NHS resources. But a war? 

While this situation persists there are things we can do to help ourselves and one another. They're not exactly radical but they can make a difference.

For yourself:
- Ration the time you spend checking the news. Also, vary your content provider/s.
- Try and exercise every day, both outside and indoors. Physical activity can boost our immune systems and exposure to sunlight and nature can help our wellbeing.
- Try and eat healthily. I know, easier said than done if certain food stocks are limited in your local area but the supply chain is starting to even out.
- If you have a garden / balcony / space for a flowerpot, plant some seeds. It's an exercise in hope and you might end up with something to look at or eat (the may be a long process!).
- Stay in touch with loved ones. (Like Steve Austin, we have the technology!)

For others:
- When you can, buy from local businesses.
- Check in with any neighbours / friends / family who are likely to be on their own.
- Share accurate information and positive news. We shouldn't be blinkered to the situation but never was the phrase 'misery loves company' more apt if you look at the world of social media. 
- Try to be kind. Everyone is concerned and a little on edge right now so small gestures go a long way. A rainbow in the window, a smile or a wave to passers-by. It may sound trite but those little contacts may be the only ones some people have in their day, so make them good ones.

And afterwards, when the lockdown is lifted and society starts to shift back to how things used to be?
- Remember who helped - the NHS and other care workers, other emergency services, shop staff, public transport, postal workers, the bin collectors, private sector medical staff, the military, civil service...everyone who tried their very best to support us - in the future. Remember them when there's a pay claim or a dispute, when job cuts are threatened or their pensions are under siege. Remember that they put you first.
- Remember that, in a time of epic crisis, money was rightly found to keep society functioning. Granted, things could have been done better but remember that the funds previously unavailable were suddenly found and made available. This matters because it disproves the lie that austerity was an economic necessity. It was always a political decision.
- Remember those small, local shops who stayed open even though they may not have had the muscle to offer big discounts and loyalty schemes. They will need you like never before when other shops and online outlets reopen their doors.
- And lastly, think hard about the sort of society you want to live in; and then ask yourself what you are doing that actively contributes to that vision. 

Stay safe, stay positive, and see you on the other side.

Derek Thompson

* From the stage show and film: Oh What a Lovely War!

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