While grounded, we can still show understanding and respect for each other

With non-essential shops closed, there has been a regular procession of delivery vans to the compound of 7 households where I live, in Chichester.

Artist Mike Dicks projected this message onto a wall of a church in Brighton & Hove. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Artist Mike Dicks projected this message onto a wall of a church in Brighton & Hove. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Shopping on-line has brought additional food supplies, gardening equipment, a few books, the odd bottle of wine, and a do-it-yourself hair care kit.

Distance delivery does not mean that we can’t speak to the person who’s delivered our goods. The value of courtesy that says, “Thank you” to anyone who helps us is so important.

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And perhaps in this strange time of physical social distancing it’s important for us to close the conversational gap and speak to other people who are no doubt also struggling with the situation we are all in.

So here’s a question: who are the people in this new army of delivery services?

A conversation with one of them revealed that the person delivering goods to our door was, until a week ago, an airline pilot. Now he’s one of the dedicated drivers that are keeping us supplied in this pandemic.

That’s a remarkable shift. Just think of the training needed for a pilot’s licence, the responsibility and the prestige that go with that status, and the income.

This dramatic shift in identity, income and working environment is just one example of the effect that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our lives. It is profound and, in many cases, will have lasting consequences.

That pilot-turned-deliveryman was not bitter about his change in circumstances. His comment on it is worth repeating: “I don’t know what we did with all the money we had.”

Learning to value more carefully what we have might be a good lesson to come out of this pandemic, especially if it leads to a massive reduction in waste and environmental damage.

And one final thing about the pilot turned van driver.

It was no fault of his that a pandemic suddenly destroyed his livelihood. We are living through an unprecedented time of serious loss of loved-ones, of livelihood, of jobs and businesses that were our pride and joy.

As a nation, we are in urgent need of building understanding and respect for each other as we recognise the lasting effects of this pandemic will have for us, especially for young people.

We deserve to see clear evidence of commitment to that from those who have received our mandate to govern and to guide us through this challenging time.

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