December Reflections 5: Biggest lesson from 2020

We have all learned from 2020, I think. How could any individual not have learned at least one important thing this year. Worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up many assumptions and beliefs and demonstrated that Human frailty is very real. Closer to home, the UK’s departure from the European Union and the manner in which it has been handled and effected has opened eyes for some. Across the water, the circus around the Presidential Election has been informative…

Big lessons have been learned by many. Amongst them might be:

  • The value of our freedoms, our work, our education, are largely unrecognised until taken away
  • The importance of those close to us
  • The fragility of our own existence
  • That our continuing good health is an assumption, not a fact
  • The trust that we place in elected governments is not necessarily well-founded
  • There are a great many hard-of-thinking people milling around this planet

I dashed this list off quickly and I could go on. With more time to think I could go on and on and on… My time is short however and I want to see if I have any real point to this post (it’s unplanned and just popping out from my fingertips.)

There comes an age where it is difficult to learn new lessons. Learning does become progressively more difficult as we age but I refer mainly to the fact that mostly the valuable learning points in my own life were discovered years ago. I have long lived by the motto Carpe Diem (seize the day). I have attacked my life and shaken it by the throat until it yielded what I wanted. People have talked about my Luck. It is not Luck, but hard work, grit and determination; an ability to spot Opportunity when it crosses one’s path, and the guts to step out of one’s comfort zone and grab that Opportunity – this is what makes the difference.

Life is short and we are the architects of our own lives. It is up to each of us to make the most of the time that we have on this planet, be it a long life or a short one, it is not to be wasted. I want to have had a life well-lived. I hope to shuffle off from this mortal coil full of experience and worn out from my adventures. This I learned long years ago but Covid-19 has brought this as new learning to some individuals. Well, come on in, the water’s fine!

But I said that we have all learned from 2020, and indeed I have had new lessons. Not good ones for the main part. Many of my rosy illusions have been shattered and my hopes and faiths have been dashed.

2020 has left me feeling quite hopeless and not at all like my usual optimistic self. Those latter two points in my short list of general lessons are my sticking points at this time.

Governments: I was never going to place my trust in any UK Tory Government but I have had the rug completely yanked out from under me this year. Who could have imagined such a useless bunch of self-serving and vile monsters could occupy Westminster. Not I. Yet, there they are.

Hard-of-thinking People: Conspiracy Theorists and Anti-Vaxxers. I have learned that they are real and that there are many. Whatever happened to Education? (Oh, that would be successive Tory Governments, I suppose.) It’s not just the UK and America, though.

Today I did learn something big: France is one of the most vaccine-sceptic countries in the Western World.

According to an Ipsos poll for the World Economic Forum, only 59% of French respondents said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if it became available, compared with 67% in the United States and 85% in Britain.

Unfortunately, France needs a far greater takeup:

France could return to some sort of post-coronavirus normal in about a year if as many as 80% to 90% of its population are vaccinated against the disease, a government scientific adviser said on Thursday.

A whopping 41% of the French population are perfectly at ease with putting my health at risk. At this point I really don’t give a stuff about their health, other than that. They can choose to join the statistics if they wish to but it would be good if they learned the really important lesson that their selfishness affects us all.

With more than 2,17 million confirmed COVID-19 infections, France has the fourth-highest tally in the world, behind the United States, India and Brasil. Its death toll, at 50,618, ranks seventh in the world.

The real and bitter irony is of course that Louis Pasteur, known as the Father of Immunisation, was a Frenchman, born in Dole (I have seen the family home).

Pasteur lived here

Vaccines and Immunisation have saved millions from sickness and prevented death and disability; they can go on doing so. If only we could vaccinate against stupidity and selfishness, would that not be a wonderful thing!

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