Thursday, 7th December 2023

Change you want to see

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo
21 August 2021   |   3:01 am
Ponder on this, will you? We are all trying to establish some sense of normality around the world, from reducing social distancing and dropping masks to going out to socialise and work again

We are just ten days from being four months from the end of the year.

Ponder on this, will you? We are all trying to establish some sense of normality around the world, from reducing social distancing and dropping masks to going out to socialise and work again. My nephew was out the other weekend, and I was fascinated to watch the number of young people with very little social distancing happening between them.

My mother actually took the risk to hop on a crowded plane to go on holiday last month. The other day someone even attempted to shake my hand and pulled back last minute when she saw my perplexed expression!
Recently, reading an article on the future of hybrid work, it hit me that our global experiment started almost 18 months ago.

The first six months of those more restricted than what followed, children being home-schooled, babies being born to mums with no other family member present, grandparents dying alone, singles working, living, and breathing within the confines of their four walls. Even as restrictions have eased up, the world seems a bit odd. Like me, halfway through dinner with friends, without having to mask up and distance ourselves, you may freeze for a second and wonder if the last 18 months were a collective nightmare.

A nightmare was not, but we seem to have been released back into a world that is increasingly becoming one, from the impact of the climate crisis on our lives to the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and disaster-hit Haiti. More than ever now is the time for us to take note and start planning the world we want to step out into. Imagine, the world almost came to a halt in March 2020 and we are now four months away from 2022.
Of course, we can’t individually solve all the problems in the world, but collectively our efforts add up to make this place more bearable following the global trauma we’ve all experienced. Coming out at the other end, I sometimes feel we’ve already forgotten the spirit of community and kindness of the early days of the pandemic when communities rallied together to help those in need. These days we seem just that bit more impatient, more belligerent more selfish like we were pre-pandemic. Granted, we no longer have scenes of people fighting over toilet rolls in supermarkets but this is not to say the next there’s even a hint of supply chain shortages, we won’t seen people rushing out to the shops to panic buy.

There is not much you and I can do about the situation in Afghanistan or in Haiti, except support and donate where we can, but it is worrying to expect more widespread kindness and charity when social media is so full of venom, at times indifferent or even mocking towards the plight of thousands of Afghans, critical of those signposting how to help where we can.

Over the last week, I read countless tweets mocking Afghans falling to their deaths from the wheels of planes they’d hung on to for dear life, Instead of mustering an ounce of empathy, there were many who chose to judge and mock them. When Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared their thoughts on the atrocities in Afghanistan and Haiti and provided a list of organisations people can donate to, they were mocked by staunch royalists and accused of wanting to make these crises about themselves. Not content with judging those around us, we spread judgment like confetti all over social media…

Today we are ten days away from the end of August. Then there are only four months till the end of the year. In six months’ time, it will be the second anniversary of the day that the world crumbled under the weight of a pandemic. You may just be one, but together, we can instigate change. This weekend, ask yourself: what kind of a world do I want to wake up to everyday? What kind of a world do I want to leave behind for our children? Then start putting those steps in place to be the change you want to see.