Coronavirus proves we’re still the lucky generation – Bill Carmichael

Boris Johnson is leading the country's response to the coronavirus crisis.Boris Johnson is leading the country's response to the coronavirus crisis.
Boris Johnson is leading the country's response to the coronavirus crisis.
THE one thing the current crisis should teach us is how incredibly lucky we have been over the last 75 years – recent decades of relative peace and prosperity have been the exception rather than the norm in history.
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All previous generations around the world experienced war, revolution, killer epidemics, extreme poverty to the point of starvation, and death and destruction on a scale scarcely imaginable today.

For example both my grandfathers experienced the horrors of the Western Front in the First World War, while my mother spent much of her adolescence hiding terrified in a cellar as the Luftwaffe blitzed the city above her head.

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Schools are now shutting due to the coronavirus pandemic.Schools are now shutting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools are now shutting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

My father, meanwhile, was so traumatised by his wartime experiences that he refused to speak in any detail of his service as a young man in the Royal Navy until a few weeks before his death when he finally unburdened himself of such tales of horror that they still disturb me to this day to think about them.

In sharp contrast most of us alive today, in the Western world at least, have been almost miraculously fortunate. Sure there have been regional wars around the world and terrible terrorist atrocities committed by Islamist extremists and the IRA, but nothing on the scale suffered by previous generations.

The closest I have come to such disruption in my own lifetime was 
during the three-day week and mass power cuts of 1973/4, when I recall 
sitting at the kitchen table of my 
parent’s house, wrapped in a sleeping bag and revising for my A-Levels by candlelight.

But generally we have been able to go about our business largely untroubled – until today and the outbreak of the coronavirus. Now many of us are told not to go to work or school, not to go the theatre, cinema or even the pub, most of the sport has been cancelled and even a quick trip to the supermarket resembles something out of the zombie apocalypse with shelves stripped bare and desperate customers fighting over the last pack of toilet roll.

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Perhaps another lesson we could learn from current events is that the dividing line between civilisation and chaos is gossamer thin, and can easily be ripped asunder. All those starry-eyed idealists calling for a complete re-ordering of our society, and the dismantling of our economy in the name of global warming or some other fashionable cause, should be careful what they wish for because they won’t like it if it happens.

Instead we should cling onto the benefits modern society has bestowed on us with grim determination because all the alternatives are infinitely worse.

Indeed, the current very real emergency makes all those protesters shrieking about the manufactured “climate emergency” look all the sillier.

Climate activism emerges as a result of a very affluent society where people are so rich and comfortable that they can’t find anything more important to protest about other than the weather.

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So now that we have a real crisis on our hands – one that actually threatens people’s lives – perhaps the posh and pampered young folk of Extinction Rebellion will take a break from trying to disrupt public transport and stop people going to work? Let’s hope so.

Another interesting aspect of the current crisis is the proliferation of self-appointed experts on Twitter and Facebook who are more than happy to pontificate on immunology, virology, computer modelling, disease control and public health policy – in fact on any subject under the sun that they know absolutely nothing about.

Daft conspiracy theories abound – apparently, for example, the coronavirus is a sinister plot by evil Tory scum to kill off all the old people who – er – voted Conservative in vast numbers last December!

Unlike most of Twitter, I have looked at the actual science and the unpalatable truth is that there are no easy options. Whatever path the Government takes, be it suppression or mitigation, there is likely to be a significant impact in terms of human suffering and damage to the economy.

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All we can do – and what the Government is actually doing – is follow the science and react as quickly as we can when circumstances change.

And of course we can look out for our neighbours, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, leaving groceries on the front step, picking up prescriptions and walking the dog. Above all stay safe, keep healthy and remain calm.

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