The 1920’s became known as the roaring 20’s. World war one had just concluded and the Spanish (yes infections are named after places) flu was subsiding. Prosperity was on the up and new technologies such as the motor car becoming more prevalent. The “party” ended in October 1929 and the hangover with an economic depression was harsh.

The 2020’s could not have started in a worse manner. The spread of Covid19 together with the health and economic impact of the response will be felt for years. And now we see the terrible events in the USA. Words do not adequately describe the abhorrence of the death of George Floyd.

Peaceful protest was entirely called for. Yet now we see violence, stealing, vandalism and destruction of property. Much of this will directly impact citizens of all backgrounds who work in and own businesses in the cities under siege. Disproportionately those from minority groups and those with less, suffer the most.

One hundred years ago, such events would not be beamed into our homes in real time. We may have read about them in a newspaper days later. It is a normal reaction to want to “do something” that may help. The reality is that from our living rooms we cannot.

Does this mean we don’t care? The answer is no. However, each of us have the ability to choose how we devote our time and energies. Two quotes come to mind , both of which are apt in these times. The Serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr;

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference.

And the words of Mahatma Gandhi – “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

Taken together these words of wisdom tell us that as individuals we can set an example for others and that by doing so we are focusing on what we can change – ourselves.

If other people choose to follow our lead, it is not because they have been forced to, it is because they have chosen to. We cannot change others, only ourselves. But if enough of us lead by example, others will follow in increasing numbers.

This year has already been highly stressful. Many have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts. Our “escapes” like watching sport or going out have been put on hold. Absolutely none of this in any way excuses what we have been seeing. But it reminds us that nothing happens in a vacuum. What happens follows what preceded it.

The term “our thoughts and prayers are with you” has always struck me as a bit trite. Yet whilst out running, it dawned on me that there is absolutely zero downside in wishing the best for people. It costs us nothing to send positive energy.

Closer to home increasing our stress levels by watching that which we cannot directly change does not help anyone. By switching off the TV and social media you are not ignoring what is happening. Get a daily update and then switch off.

More than ever, now is the time to focus on what you, as an individual can do which makes a difference to your life and the lives of those around you. Look after your health. Check in on those you care about. Help those who you are able to.

Let us hope that the 2020’s are the reverse on the 1920’s. Rather than start well and end badly may it end well having started badly.