Self-isolation: Day 6

We’ve had a crash course in home schooling. It’s not easy. Trying to get my head around and balance the curriculums of a 12, 9 and 4 year old. Then trying to make the work tasks interesting. Trying to make sure they actually do them. Trying to make sure we are not asking too much or too little.It’s an adjustment for the children.

Remote friends only, or through a window. A highlight was my daughter in the back garden having a shouting conversation with her friend two doors up. It was a real injection of something new into our “routine”. Not to be overly dramatic, but I think I got a little insight into the way Edmond Dantes must have felt when he connected with fellow prisoner Abe Faria in Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo.

The homeschooling has had to fit with my wife’s study and teaching (she is teaching online fitness classes at the moment) and, of course, being Mayor. Communications with our teams, partners and national government has been constant. I have set up variously in our front room, kitchen and the boys bedroom for the ongoing stream of conference calls, Zoom calls, Skype, Facetime, vlogs and TV and radio interviews. Among the major challenges has been holding together the immediate need to tackle the virus but not to lose sight of the need to plan for economic and social recovery over the next 12, 24 and 60 months.

We (humans) are going through a period of great readjustment in our sense of self. I think it’s driven by our need to come to terms with the fact that we do not have absolute control over our experience of the planet. That needs to be qualified because many people live an existence where their life chances are determined by factors outside of their control. This is most obviously the reality for the poorest in the global south, but it is also true for people in the poorest communities of Europe and North America. But even in those circumstances, we have the sense that some people, somewhere, in some meeting could make a decision to sign a peace treaty, stop selling arms, stop polluting the environment, distribute mosquito nets, cancel debts, trade fairly, divert money from arms to primary education and vaccines, or introduce a new piece of technology.

The sheer sense that someone somewhere could make the decision, even if they don’t, gives us a sense of humanity’s dominion.But what we are forced to confront in the coronavirus is a fact some would say we had lost touch with: that there are things on our planet that can shape our lives that, once unleashed, no people anywhere can control. This is cause for a timely adjustment of our collective sense of self and our relationship with the planet. Our future must be more humble and respectful.

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