It seems poetic that the Shakespeare play that the term ‘brave new world’ is from is The Tempest. In the current circumstances, one of my favourite ways of comprehending the chaos and tumult of Covid has been that “we may not be in the same boat, but we are in the same storm” and what a tempest it is.
Navigating this pandemic is extraordinarily challenging. In part this is due to the scale and impact of the virus but mainly due to the reality that there is no one size fits all solution. It has highlighted that each of us has a unique relationship to risk that is based on our individual circumstances and that relationship to risk keeps evolving as our circumstances change. That in turn, influences our decisions and choices, particularly in response to rules and guidance, and how confident we feel as lockdown restrictions are eased.
It’s an impossible task for our government to find a single methodology to address the pandemic – they tried that when lockdown started but knew that it could only ever be a relatively short-term option and that variations would be required to accommodate those unique circumstances. But why are we expecting our government to solve the problem like some kind of omniscient superbeing? Surely the key here is that we take responsibility for ourselves and our choices in the context of our relationship to risk given our individual circumstances.
And yes, I know, it’s incredibly difficult to know what the rules really are because of all the tweaks and changes and there has been a huge amount of judgement by others of others. I know I don’t want to be perceived as the one who keeps breaking the rules and putting other people at risk so at times I have been timid and would rather not go out for fear of what others would say. As someone who is very externally referenced, this is not a new situation for me to be in but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Being rational when one is on the coronacoaster is hard work but I think it is essential in taking the pressure off ourselves to do what is perceived as right by other people. We can only do what is right in our circumstances, taking into account what we know and don’t, and then intuitively calculating the risk that we are exposing ourselves, our families and our communities to. This means that to address the pandemic and re-balance life, we need to work together, appreciating each others’ individual context, take responsibility for our own behaviour, and make considerate decisions.
It is this rational and optimistic approach that gives me hope because we humans are really quite marvellous at times. When we work together, we can achieve great things…. and little things too, like making someone feel good, or helping solve a problem, or sharing a resource. Working together enables us to weather the storm.
As Miranda says in The Tempest: O brave new world, that has such people in ’t!