6 November 2020
Life is full of surprises, full of ups and downs. And so to have a silver lining, first there must be cloud…….
New government restrictions came into force yesterday. Thankfully this time schools remain open but none-the-less we are all facing further restrictions to our ‘normal’ everyday lives.
As I settled to write this blog I pondered whether I should write about Covid-19 and social distancing? Maybe not, we’re all bored of talking about it, but then again it remains the biggest issue in most of our lives. Eventually I decided yes, I should but what could I say what could I possibly add to the billions of words that have already been written and spoken in the media? Then it came to me? Children’s drawings, Yin and Yang and Thomas the Tank Engine!
During the first lockdown I was browsing the BBC news website and a very different story about the pandemic caught my eye. It was titled ‘Drawings from Lockdown’. It featured a series of pictures drawn by children from all over the world whose lives had been affected by the virus. These pictures revealed how they were feeling about the virus, depict how life has changed, the things they miss and their hopes that things would return to normal soon. I share them with you now not due to their merits as pieces of art but because I found them and the accompanying article inspiring.
The first was by a 9-year-old rugby fan from Japan. Ryu had drawn himself tackling and kicking the virus and he had written at the bottom ‘I wish I could end the virus by these actions.’
11-year-old Geon-Woo from South Korea had drawn a war against the corona virus and expressed the fear he feels when he sees people who are infected.
Hailey, 9, from Hong Kong had drawn a machine that can make medicine for the whole world which everyone can use. She hopes that this machine will expel the virus from the earth, so she has drawn space and stars in the background.
These pictures were essentially immature expressions of how we are all feeling, we want this to be over, we want things to return to normal, but all three children had also identified something positive about their situation. For Ryu, it was being able to learn at his own speed, for Geon-Woo it was playing board games with his mum, watching movies he’s always wanted to see, and reading books.
Allesandra from Italy had drawn the ‘heart of her quarantined days’, her desk. The hot air balloons and rainbow show her longing and hope for a brighter future. She too identified some positives; spending more time with her mum and cooking and the fact that she never dreamed the air in Rome could be so clean.
Just like Alessandra, Jiya from India also identified the positive environmental impact of lockdown saying, ‘By staying at home, we are giving space to nature to regrow. We are able to hear the bird song rather than the sound of vehicles on the road.’
Olivia from the UK’s drawing symbolises the fact that whilst we are physically apart we are all more connected through love, we are thinking more about other people now.
As it often does, once I started to think about this article, my mind leapt to philosophy and theology. Yin and Yang. In Ancient Chinese philosophy Yin and Yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent. Most frequently this dualism is expressed in the idea that you cannot have good without evil.
A similar idea can be found in a short story called 'The Destructors' written by Graham Greene. The story parallels a theme from Hindu theology. Destruction is necessary for creation. The Trimurti, the triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism that personifies the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance and destruction, Shiva’s role is to destroy in order that Brahma can create.
A similar idea can also be found in Christian Theology. A theodicy is an attempt to explain why a loving powerful God allows there to be suffering in the universe. One answer to the problem of evil is, that without suffering there can be no compassion. It is true that in the wake of natural disasters and atrocities we often see human kind at its best. This was the idea expressed by young Olivia in her drawing, there is little doubt that early in the first lockdown people were thinking more about others. 750,000 people volunteered to support the NHS how many of them normally volunteer their time to support those less fortunate?
And finally….my mind wondered to Thomas the Tank Engine and the popular saying every cloud has a silver lining.
This was the concept that drew all the ideas together. Yin and Yang, the Trimurti and the children’s drawings of lockdown.
Yes, life is very different at the moment. Yes, during the first lockdown we all missed our friends, our families and the things of our ‘normal lives’ and yes we are about to face these challenges again. But every cloud has a silver lining even if sometimes we may need to look very hard for it.
This is not to belittle the impact of the first lockdown but if we look hard enough there were positives. The impact on the environment, time with our friends and families; I spoke more to my sister in America than ever, I was able to have breakfast every morning with my partner and son, we enjoyed regular face to face interaction in our weekly Zoom quiz with friends who we normally only see a couple of times a year. The negatives were still there but as we approach a second period of lockdown we can choose to search for and find that silver lining and focus on what we have rather than what we don’t and if we do, then maybe once this is over our worlds will be a different but better place. We’ll have a new found appreciation for that which we normally take for granted, we’ll value time with our friends and family, we’ll show greater compassion for others.
Which brings me finally to Thomas the Tank Engine, who I think you’ll agree expressed this idea better than anyone!
Life is full of surprises
Full of ups and downs
And so to have a silver lining, first there must be cloud