The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world. For everyone. Probably for ever. There have been many tragic deaths, much suffering, huge anxiety, untold controversies, real confusion & uncertainty, and more. But it is not all just negative bad news. Really?! Well, yes. In these times we have surely also been able to learn some things so let’s consider some things we may have learned…..

Being alone can be bad and it can be good. With lockdowns and self-isolation and social distancing most of us have been alone more than in the past. Not out of choice for the most part, but nonetheless we have been more alone. We might think of this purely as a negative but if we are honest, truly honest, with ourselves, we will see that sometimes a bit of “me-time” is actually a good thing. Time to reflect, to slow down, to be more mindful and deliberate, etc. This varies from person to person and while some have found being alone to be unbearably lonely, others have actually enjoyed the chance to be less social. For most of us it has perhaps been some of each (sometimes lonely, sometimes pleased to have space). In this there is a great learning opportunity: here is a chance to review and better-understand our own selves as regards our preferences for company, how much company, what type of company, etc.

Some things are really important, and some not-so-much. When the lockdowns change our lives, we find that some things are not too important and some things really are. Perhaps the late-night curfew has shown you that you don’t really need to be out until “the small hours”. Perhaps the early-lockdown restrictions when even exercise was not allowed, have shown how you actually really do need to be active, and you miss it terribly. Perhaps the long periods of relative isolation have helped you identify the people you truly care for and those who are more “acquaintances” than true or close friends.

How important is freedom? The last 2 years has been about trading freedoms for health & safety. That is a huge over-simplification but not without merit. It is, at least for the most part, true. So how do you feel about it? Are you content to sacrifice some freedoms in the interests of saving lives and protecting healthcare resources? Or do you really miss being able to go where you choose, when you choose, with whom you choose, wearing or not wearing, what you choose? Do you miss those things enough to accept some risks? How much risk? How much of the response to the pandemic belongs with governments and lawmakers and how much should be about individuals making their own choices? These are never-ending and undoubtedly complex questions that most of us never imagined facing. But these are the sort of questions that this pandemic has thrown up, whether we like it or not. So, it’s all worth considering. We offer no one-view here. It is not our place to propose a particular opinion. But we do think it is a conversation we can, and should, all be having, with each other, with our various leaders (at work, in society, politically), and perhaps most importantly, with ourselves.

This pandemic, and the response to it, has changed our world. Probably for ever. There is a lot to think about, a lot to learn, and many decisions still to be made. We are in the process of mapping out the shape of our world for the future, at all levels from purely personal choices to family decisions, to societal attitudes, to legislated regulations, and more. We encourage all readers to play an active & thoughtful role in their own future and the future of the world we live in. It starts with what we have learned so far….

Written by Dr Colin Burns