Even without the global pandemic, 2020 has been a tumultuous year. In the UK, we’ve stumbled our way out of the European Union. The worldwide Black Lives Matter movement has challenged the way we think about race and about our own colonial history. And we’ve become ever more aware of (although, sadly, not necessarily more inclined to do anything about) the damage that we’re inflicting on the world around us.
So as the year comes to a close, it seems timely to reflect on what we’ve learned from the last twelve months. It’s tempting, of course, to simply put our heads down and get the hell out of 2020 as quickly as possible. But it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to draw back the curtains tomorrow on a new world of pandemic-free sunlit uplands. And so we need to learn what we can, in the hope that it will help us better to deal with the year ahead.
This is my first global pandemic, so I’ll have to confess that I’m not entirely au fait with the etiquette for dealing with everything that’s going on.
What the Government says we can and cannot do seems to change pretty much every day. And it would be very easy to get oneself quite worked up about whether what people are buying in the supermarket is truly essential. Or whether those people sitting together in the park are really from one, two or however many households it’s supposed to be.
And so I’ve developed my golden rule for pandemic living: Don’t judge.
We’ve learned over the past few months that schools are about much more than learning. The social interactions that they provide and the relationships that they nurture are essential to our children’s social development and to their mental health and wellbeing. And yes, they teach stuff, too. They also allow many parents to go to work. Or to get work done from home.
Consequently, it’s hugely important that we try to find a way to re-open our schools in September to all young people. Especially given that we seem to have found ways to open pubs. But only if – and, to be honest, it’s a massive if – we can do so safely.
I don’t know about you, but while we’ve been ‘locked down’ over the past few months, I’ve made much more of an effort to catch up with people I know, whether they’re family members, friends, work clients or casual acquaintances. Not in person, of course (I’m not a monster), but with a mixture of phone, email and video calls.
Political philosophy is hard to define. But it is easy enough to do. In fact, we do it quite a lot. We do it when we’re deciding who to vote for (if we have that luxury). We do it when we’re agonising over the latest news headlines. We do it when we’re yelling at the protagonists on Question Time. But what is political philosophy? And why does it matter?