May 21st

It is not too soon to start thinking about life after lockdown. We can all ask ourselves what aspects of our lockdown lives have turned out to be beneficial, and whether we would like to keep them. For myself, I doubt that my everyday life will be very much different. But I am hoping that my closer connection to my family will continue, and maybe my involvement with people and practical matters will continue to seem more important than my planned technical retirement projects.

Many people are asking the wider question of whether society can keep some of the better, especially greener, aspects of lockdown. For me, the open science-literate TV debates have prompted questions. Is it too much to hope for a more honest, evidence-driven, agreement-seeking approach to politics? There have been around 85,000 deaths in the UK from seasonal flu over the last five years. Can all the recent good work help us to do better? Attitudes to science in general and medicine in particular have improved, as people have seen more of their human inner workings. Can we keep that going?

We often feel helpless because society-wide changes have to come from politics. Yet politicians feel helpless because they are unable to make changes which go against public opinion. So maybe the way to change society is to change public opinion first and get politics to follow. That means we may all have a duty, just as important as voting, to continually refine our own opinions and help spread good ideas. The resulting ripples may have more effect than you think.

Ian Holyer