A new generation of kindness
Something occurred to me recently, whilst I was out for my daily walk, slaloming through the silent streets of Walthamstow. I looked around at the rainbows hung in windows and the teddies propped up on the tops of door frames, like a glorious little treasure hunt, and it dawned on me that this pandemic has cultivated a new generation of kindness.
It is there in the joyful displays of artwork, the boxes of free books, posters requesting food bank donations and declarations of thanks to the NHS. I’m not sure I even understood what the NHS was when I was in primary school, and here we have an abundance of future voters who will grow up knowing why we cannot ever be without it.
This experience is teaching children the importance of being compassionate, not just in times of crisis but always. They are learning that no job is too lowly to be respected, and that it is in fact the cleaners, the porters, the delivery drivers, the factory workers, the fruit pickers, the refuse collectors and the shelf stackers that keep the world turning, when other parts of it shut down. They will remember when they were allowed to stay up late and bash pots and pans in their pyjamas in order to celebrate doctors, nurses, carers and other key workers. Perhaps up until recently they have only seen people cheer like that for celebrities.
Many children will have seen their parents acting in ways they haven’t seen before – checking in on neighbours and cooking meals for vulnerable people, fostering animals and leaving thank you notes for the postman. How wonderful for them to see that it’s become common place to volunteer and to give what you can - for free - without wanting anything in return. When they look back on this in years to come, they will remember that we can survive without many things, but that we are lost without our green spaces, our freedom, our healthcare system, our schools and our sense of community.
Lockdown life is hard, but this is something to hang on to. These children will grow up to be voters, leaders, decision makers, parents and teachers one day, and if they have learnt anything at all from this experience, it gives me faith that the next generation will be in good hands.