National Day of Reflection, Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 23rd March 2022

Today is the second National Day of Reflection, a day dedicated to those lost during the course of the pandemic, two years on from the UK’s first lockdown.

It’s hard to overstate the impact COVID-19 has had on the UK, the level of government restrictions and interventions alone are unlike anything experienced before during peacetime. Unfortunately, the human brain is hardwired to deem acceptable things which become routine, even if at any other time we would consider them to be horrific.

Joseph Stalin is alleged to have said: “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” While it would be easy to discount this as the warped ravings of a mass-murderer, the reality is we see it all the time with global disasters, with people reacting far more strongly to the tale of a single human life lost rather than updates on the overall death total.

We have lost over 185,000 members of our community to a pathogen unknown to the world just three years ago, yet we don’t seem to be acting as though we recognise this as the deadliest incident our country has faced since WWII.

Perhaps it’s the myth that all those who died were old or had underlying conditions, ignoring all the evidence to the contrary? Yet, even if that were true, many ‘underlying conditions’ would not have prevented people from living a full lifespan and with average life expectancy being over 80, someone dying in their early 70s still amounts to a decade lost.

Today is a chance to remember all those lost and that every one of those 185,000 had people who are grieving; to remember the pandemic isn’t over and our actions today will determine how high the numbers grieving will continue to rise. We’re not being asked to pick up a gun to save our countrymen or to even to wear a poppy in remembrance. The only sacrifice asked of us is to keep wearing face masks when away from home. It’s a simple act, yet one which helps protect others from having to grieve.

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