Covid pandemic demonstrates value of people pulling together

The Covid-19 pandemic has really highlighted how much we need each other in order to survive as a species.

The relentless mantra of the past 40-plus years has been about individualism. Everyone striving to be better, never mind the cost to anyone else. The survival of the fittest.

Remember, those famous words of Margaret Thatcher, that there is no such thing as society.

Some of the response to Covid could seem to emphasise the individual and isolation over collectivism and society. The lockdowns, social distancing and isolation. However, such a view takes those actions out of context.

The reason for doing these things is not only self-preservation but for the survival of us all. We’re all in it together.

So people wear masks, socially distance and get vaccinated for their own good and that of their neighbours and friends. These are acts of solidarity. Indeed, those refusing to do these things for the collective good of all can be said to be behaving in a very individualist selfish way.

There have also been the collective acts of generosity, like the support of foodbanks, front line workers and the homeless.

What this period has shown is how much more effective things can be when everyone pulls together in solidarity, rather than behaving in an atomised, selfish manner.

It must be hoped that this collective sense of worth continues and grows. It can see off the pandemic but will also be needed to take on other crises such as climate and biodiversity destruction.

It must also be helped that a new ethos emerges from this collective approach, one that sees a more equal society emerging, whereby the wealth and resource of all is more fairly distributed. A move away from the dangerous polarisation between a small elite of very rich and increasing large number of relatively poor – the haves and have nots of society.

Also, a greater recognition of the work and workers that are vital for survival – NHS and care workers, emergency service staff, teachers, street cleaners, local authority workers and supermarket staff. They should receive monetary gain, not just words and applause.

Thinking beyond just self will be better for everyone in the long run. A better world premised on the common good of all can emerge from these dark times.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See

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