It has been a horrendous year in some respects. Here in the UK, having fallen during the warmer months, cases of Covid have again risen dramatically, in spite of a successful vaccination campaign. The government’s dithering tactics – bringing in regulations too late, repealing them (especially the mask-wearing mandate) when they shouldn’t have, then reinstating them – has left people confused and annoyed. So the virus has mutated again, as viruses do, and we have Omicron, which seems to be taking over. Full marks to the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for outlining a plan; only the central government seems paralysed and unwilling to do the same for England.
Other places in Europe are having their share of Covid problems too. At the time of writing, several countries have hastily introduced or reintroduced restrictions on travel, entertainment and other personal freedoms . Vaccines are great, and they are working. Yet we should spare a thought for the inhabitants of parts of Africa and other places where there are insufficient vaccines to go around. Certainly, this country has made some small effort to distribute, but too little too late. We must accept some of the blame for what is happenening elsewhere in the world because, as has often been said (but rarely acted upon), no one is safe until the vaccines are available and taken up everywhere.
It is dispiriting to realise there is so much rage in the world, opinions polarised to such an extent that compromise disappears and at the extreme edges of politics, people riot and resort to violence to achieve their ends. One must wonder how this plague of intolerance and hatred has come to infect places which have hitherto (for the most part) been models of democracy and respect for human dignity.
Despite all these negatives, there is some good news. There are so many people working in essential services whom we ought to thank once again for their commitment to their fellow men and women. I refer not only to the dedicated doctors and nurses who keep the health services of the world ticking over, but to the many others, not often appreciated, who keep our streets safe, our hospitals clean and take away our refuse. The majority of people have responded to the Covid pandemic with respect and caution, and every day we hear of acts of great altruism and compassion.
At a time of year when, whatever our beliefs, we human beings like to come together to celebrate – and most of the world does – it is important to remember the good as well as the bad in our individual lives as in the wider world. And spare a few thoughts for those less fortunate through illness, poverty or personal loss who cannot celebrate as they would like.
I would like to wish all my fellow bloggers, wherever you are in the world, a very happy Christmas, and a more healthy, safe and successful 2022!