Paul Brown - LawDuring lock down we have all had time to reflect on what is important in life and how much time we actually spend on what really matters. We experienced the importance of family and human connection along with the need for community spirit.

Whilst confined to our bubbles and neighbourhoods we saw pure delight on children’s faces as they spent more time with their mums and dads. Parks were filled with families on bikes, kite flying, ball games, dog walking and even the occasional family picnic. People said hello in the street again, we checked up on our neighbours, we had conversations with our kids, we all walked, biked, or exercised more frequently.

Our social media feeds were pinging constantly with innovative home-based activities, games and talent quests showcasing group activities by zoom from private homes. Families, friends, social, business groups and international communities connected, played and did life together online. Proof that we are placed on this earth for meaningful human connection.

Traditional “heroes” of social media or Hollywood have been replaced with the new superheroes of healthcare. We now celebrate and applaud those turning up to work every day amongst the Covid 19 crises and chaos, putting not only their own health at risk, but those in their family bubble.

Think nurse Jenny McGee from Invercargill who looked after Boris – one of many. Thanks to all the nurses, doctors, foodbanks, and creative mums, dads, grandparents who inspired us.

We gave our money, focus and time to worthy causes, neighbourhood food drops, shared responsible social posts and even put teddy bears in our windows.

Jacinda Ardern’s leadership with its strong message of kindness resonated around the world and motivated Kiwi’s to do the right thing and stay at home. For once we united and put family, the elderly and the vulnerable before commerce and profits. Something we have only ever heard about in stories from our parents and grandparents who endured wartime and the depression.

For more than six weeks, we survived almost zero physical social contact outside of our bubble. Meeting friends at restaurants, bars, cafes, attending gyms and sports clubs, retail therapy, movies were banned. Instead we cooked, cleaned, baked, repaired, gardened, watched Netflix, started new projects, played games, learnt something new and spent invaluable time with our family.

So, what are the lessons here?

It is likely the convenience of this online world will continue along with a passion for physical labour-saving activities. There will be preservation of our newfound appreciation for the things that matter to us personally, whether that be quality time with loved ones, relaxation, better sleep, meaningful experiences, learning new things or tapping into more authentic and creative pursuits.

For many there are job losses, financial pressures, mortgage recalculations and massive change beyond anything our generation have experienced before. This occurred at bewildering speed. Perhaps it is time to reassess our response to the jobless and homeless?

When squeezed, people show their true colours. Resilience, grit, tenacity, optimism, or fear, anxiety, stress and resistance to change. How we have filled our minds and treated our bodies during the past six weeks has equipped us for this next season.

We look to the elderly with renewed honour and respect. They have demonstrated such resilience and grit. Most soldiered on, without complaint – attributes learnt during wartime. Spending was minimal, everyone lived out of home gardens and shared what they had with the less fortunate. Captain Tom Moore stole our hearts when he walked his driveway for weeks on end raising 23 million pounds for the National Health Service in the UK.

National pride exhibited for Anzac Day this year eclipsed any other. Households went out of their way to decorate with poppies and homemade paraphernalia to honour our fallen soldiers and families who suffered losses over many years. Years that were stolen from them, not a mere 50 days of lockdown.

How we embrace this new normal will be a testimony our children and grandchildren will one day read about. Whatever we say no longer matters but what we do exhibits our character more than any post lock down gifts, treats or frenzied activity.

Let’s remember what we have learnt and let’s keep this new spirit alive with continued kindness, thoughtfulness and random acts of generosity, not just for our family but for those in our wider community. Imagine a pandemic that caused so much death and destruction it motivated people to build a better and more inclusive society.

Now that is a lesson for the world to follow.