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  • Writer's pictureRichard Plumpton | ii |

Thinking Global When the Walls Close In...

[Image: Dawn | © NASA]

It's hard to believe that the world has been grappling with the COVID-19 Pandemic for over a year now.

Lockdowns, infection rates, vaccinations, remote working, home schooling, isolation and, tragically, the loss of millions of lives – and still the most optimistic forecasters only have us at the halfway point of it all.

I'm reminded of some research I was involved in a couple of decades ago that looked at how local our outlook tends to become when faced with global threats and heightened stress. Sound familiar? Who amongst us hasn't had to focus more on the day-to-day struggle that life has often been and to look to our closest family members rather than being able to stay concerned about others outside our immediate circle?

Over the past 12 months there have definitely been times when the walls have closed in. When it has been a huge effort to just get through the day with the kids feeling relatively safe, some home schooling done and a few Zoom calls ticked off. When earning enough income to cover the bills is sometimes possible and sometimes, well, not.

Yet within the chaos of the past year, my work has occasionally forced me to lift my head up from watching my feet take the next step, to considering 2022, or 2025, or even 2030 on the days I really have to push it.

And in having to look a few years rather than just minutes ahead, I have found an interesting clarity around what works in our current world and what, in all honesty, really doesn't. From the accelerating push for clean energy and the investment going behind it on the plus side, to the increasing social media-driven distrust of systems of government on the other. From the passion and thirst for change amongst the younger generations, to the conspiracy-driven fear promoting the status quo amongst the older, whiter and (let's be honest) more male generations.

And alongside this clarity, I've also been surprised by the energy that having to take a longer-term view has given me. How it has helped to drag me out of the day-to-day slog of getting through another pandemic affected day, to dreaming of what type of better world we might be able to build when we get to the other side of this moment in history.

It might feel a long way away for us all now, but in a year or so we will be hopefully be emerging, blinking, from our tiny little cocoons to focus once more on how we can all play our part in creating a fairer, more peaceful and climate resilient world to hand on to our children and theirs...


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