The UK Government’s latest COVID-19 campaign reminds me of a bumper sticker from years ago:
“Be ALERT. Britain needs Lerts”
What does it mean to be a-lert in these uncertain times?
We want simple messages; but the situation is far from simple. With coming out of lockdown being such a complicated matter, how is being alert meant to help?
How about “Be Aware”?
Be Aware . . . that every situation is different: what might apply to the tenement blocks of Glasgow may not apply to the leafy suburbs of Bristol, for example!
Be Alert to the fact that everybody, every one of us, is different. Our situation is unique to us: to our previous health history, to the job we do and so on.
So it is up to each of us to Be Aware of what we need to do to protect ourselves, protect others (and thus protect the NHS) at any given moment. It’s no longer a matter of following simple rules – as one rules does not suit all!
We all need to Be Alert to the need to adapt where we go, what we do and how we do it on a moment by moment basis, so as to best balance keeping safe from COVID-19, doing the work we need to do and other essential activities: like shopping . .. and resting.
If we can see “Be Alert” as an instruction to take responsibility for our own well-being and our part of the collective shift to a new normal, then might that also help us to feel in control . . .
To be responsible is be response-able, to be able to respond to the needs of each moment, by being alert, by being present.
As we move into the next phase of this pandemic we have a wonderful opportunity to practice being present: to Be Alert is to sense what is going on around us, as it happens. To notice, for example, a group walking towards us on a narrow path and to cross over the road (without feeling the need to judge whether or not they are a family group!).
By Being Aware of how old ways of working and behaving might cause concerns amongst others, so we can respond in a win-win fashion. We might know that our cough has been with us for years, but others on the train won’t be: using a face covering might be irritating but, for the time being, in some situations, it’s the right thing to do.
Be Aware of others. Be Alert to their different perspective and needs. That way, not only are we doing our bit to get the UK working again, we are also showing the kindness we all need at this time.