Sunday 31 May 2020

Carrying the Shame

I carry the shame of my generation.

We have sleepwalked our way into a time of extreme problems.

Prior to this, the most recent case of sleepwalking into a nightmare world occurred in the 1930s.

The current problems are largely self-evident.

Just two weeks ago I wrote:

‘The finishing post is NOT in sight.

Schools should NOT return to action unless it is absolutely safe to do so.

I hope schools are able to make a stand against the latest plan.

Everyone is much too valuable to be used as an experiment.’

A lot has happened since then.

A lot hasn’t happened since then.

Substantial pressure is being placed on schools to return to action. The campaign to name teaching staff as heroes dovetails so neatly into the ethos of the weekly act of clapping that it will act as a badge of shame for those who do not think it is safe to return.

The pressure is intensified; who would want to let the side down? Who isn’t capable of being a hero?

The nation needs its share of the ‘feel good’ factor.

The simplest example of such an artifice occurred during the 1939-45 war, when households were asked to donate points and pans and the railings from parks and gardens were removed, ‘to help the war effort.’

Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister for Aircraft Production, ‘We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes, Blenheims and Wellingtons.’

The unfortunate reality of the situation is that the metal was either dumped into the sea or merely left in scrap heaps, which rather dilutes the intended ‘do your bit’ feel good message.

You don't need to give away your pots and pans.

You don’t need an appointed time to clap for your heroes.

It will already have faded from memory that many people wanted to clap again for the ‘hero of the nation’, who recklessly subjected himself to the virus by shaking hands with infected sufferers.

Presumably someone told him Princess Diana once did something similar, during the height of a different virus. The finer detail of how the respective viruses were allowed to spread was either ignored or not present.

On the day some schools will open their doors to more than just key workers' children, the lockdown will be eased in other ways.

This will ensure there will be confusion when the second spike appears; the trail won’t lead clearly to the school environment.

I need schools to return to normal for the sake of my own business - but I don’t want them to return as I know it is not going to be safe.

There is no point in comparing the situation in the United Kingdom to that of other countries. It fails the test of comparing like with like.

One aspect that isn’t being talked about is just how will people - of all ages - react to a return to school after so many weeks away.

Any teacher will tell you how difficult it is to go back to teaching after the Summer break.

They now have to return after an unprecedented time away from their children, friends and colleagues. Any attempt to make that sound like an easy transition is pure bravado.

The spike in the spread of the virus won’t be the only one. The explosion of mental health issues will be unprecedented.

Nobody, anywhere, can successfully claim to be immune to such problems when their whole world is turned upside down.

Time and again I have said I believe in the next generation to make a much better job of everything once they have the opportunity to do so and I am deeply ashamed of the the state of the world they will inherit.

To the young, I apologise.

I carry the shame of my generation.

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