Richard Dawkins

Lesley Pearse: Covid’s great lesson is to count our blessings

It may seem old-fashioned, but this year has reminded us to appreciate what we already have in our lives. Our challenge now is to keep it up, says the author of Suspects.

Lesley Pearse

For me it is looking to nature. Every winter plants die down, trees lose their leaves, but spring arrives and the daffodils spring up in parks and gardens, lambs are born however cold the weather, and the birds sing merrily in the mornings. This resurgence happens all around the world after droughts, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and terrible diseases too. I have always felt there is a master plan for our world, that the times of destruction and hardship will not be permanent. At present we feel the Covid pandemic will never end, we are frightened for our loved ones, and fear life will never be the same again.

Perhaps it won’t be the same, but my hope is that it will be better because we’ve all learned so much in this last year.

We’ve learned how much we need our families and friends, the value of conversation and laughter.

We have seen nurses, doctors, police, paramedics, care workers, teachers and so many other frontline workers carrying on their tasks with courage and humanity. We can have hope for the future if we look to these people and follow their example.

And our children! Look at their innocent little faces, listen to their laughter. They are our future, and what we teach them now will enable that future to be a better, caring, far more balanced one, where racism, bigotry and greed have no place.   

'We’ve all learned so much in this last year'

So many families I know have grown closer, because of the lockdown. They’ve had to invent ways of dealing with boredom, reading more, listening to music, or learning to play an instrument; they’ve baked bread and cakes, made clothes or grown vegetables and flowers. And all those things are good for the soul.

As a child I was taught to ‘Count my Blessings’ and as old fashioned as that sounds, I believe that by doing so, and encouraging others to do so, we can create a better society for all. Have we got enough to eat? A home, and warm clothes?  Are we healthy? If you can say yes to all those things, then it’s time to look around and become aware of those who lack those basic needs. And to try and do something about it.  

We speak about our need for a holiday as if getting on an aeroplane and flying off somewhere warm is more important than an old man needing a hip replacement, a young mother suffering from cancer, or the desperate sadness for those who have lost their husband, wife or one of their children. Yet at the same time I know so many people, myself included who were moved to tears by Sir Captain Tom and his fundraising walk. While there are people like him on the planet, and countless more that are touched by his selflessness, there is hope for the future.

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Lesley Pearse is the author of Suspects.

Reasons for Hope is a series of essays to mark the one year anniversary of the Covid-19 crisis. The author's fee for this article is being donated to the National Literacy Trust. Read more of the essays here.

Image: Alicia Fernandes / Penguin  

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