These Corona days we are stripped back to basics. It is Maslow’s triangle at its most basic: food, shelter, health and being with loved ones.
Normally society likes to forget mundane things like bin emptying, caring for demented people with dignity, shopping. We like to feel “Important” – valuing things that are erudite, complicated, flashy and sophisticated, this is what we look up to, like stocks and shares ( but are actually a series of changing digital zeros that we make impact our lives).
We are like a bunch of silly magpies taken in by all that glitters. But, all that glitters is not gold, we have met our nemesis in the form of something we can not even see – a deadly virus! It humbles us and makes us realise actually what key elements and jobs we really need to serve our human bodies.
There are people busy out there right now in our society who are not comfortable at home, furloughed on a juicy £2500. They are not just the wonderful doctors and nurses who are at the very front line but they are the largely unseen hands and faces that are doing other important work: carers caring for society’s most vulnerable – often with no extra protective clothing. They are working for an average of something like £1500 per month, under £10 an hour, doing difficult work that gives people care and dignity, also meeting that deadly virus. There are the bin men, dealing with all that we wish to throw away, the shop assistants – often very young – making sure politely, that we all get to eat.
There are cries of “getting back to normal” . But the new normal will look very different. Some family structures will be different, jobs lost, economies struggling. In this new normal I would like to propose we do something different, radical. It is time to start to have a different value system. It would be a system that valued not just the outward but things that make us function well as people. No longer should the health of a society be valued by its GDP but by its GNC.
Society could value GNC – Gross National Care. This way, we give credence to the things that make us happy, better, more functioning and humanitarian people. We will value caring: jobs that we really, really need will no longer be marginalised and underpaid by squeezed local authorities, hospitals will not reach breaking point, old people will feel nourished and not neglected, mothers can stay at home with their children. Time to be rethinking economics, pay structures and how we model things like mortgages that are currently based on two incomes.
Motherhood is just not valued in our society – there is an unthinking assumption across all political parties that there should be more and more childcare/nurseries for ever younger children. Having worked with children all my adult life I can confidently say that babies/ very young children are NOT herd creatures. They are better given devoted care by those who can fashion their attention to their particular needs and focus on giving them absolutely the very best individual start in life – and these people are their parents, who love them the best in this world. There is nothing degrading in looking after the future generation with intelligence, care and devotion or the very old who have served us with their efforts.
It comes down to valuing each other – valuing our humanity. We are fallible creatures with physical and emotional needs who live on a beautiful fragile planet that needs our care and devotion as much as we need that too!
Let’s not be greedy magpies taken in by glittering gold. Let us value service, care, humbleness and cherishing of others. That way we will have a society that not only redistributes wealth but is actually happier and more real and is in balance with our world. Time for us to grow up and not be impressed by outward charades of gloss and material matter.
First published by the author on her Accidental Songwriter site