But this is not the time to get ‘narked’ at past crimes. Rather, what can we do to address this big issue?
As a former binman, road sweeper, meat and veg deliverer, washer-up and cleaner, I can tell you it’s the first time that such trades and labours have gone noticed in my lifetime.
But this is not the time to get ‘narked’ at past crimes. Rather, what can we do to address this big issue? Is there anything other than clapping for the overlooked people now that they are seen as so essential?
As a one-time Marxist and Catholic I have a tendency to want to create big systems that explain everything. Often out of my own insights. So here goes: I believe that what we need to do is see things as made up of ingredients. Life in some ways is one big ‘bake off’. ‘Ingredients’ meaning that if you don’t have the right ingredients, at the right time and in the right proportion, then you don’t get the desired outcome.
Too much salt will kill the meal. A badly cleaned bathroom in a hotel will rob it of clients. A dirty toilet in a restaurant may lead you to tell all to avoid the place.
When I worked in a sandwich bar the removing of dirty plates and clean floors was as important as the speed and efficacy of the sandwich-making.
Starting from the realisation – encouraged by the curfew – that we all need each other, we could push on to an educational system that explains how our systems – of life, body, weather, society, money, poverty – work
This awareness of the ingredients of what makes up a ‘whole’ might, in my opinion, wake us up to how we are all in fact one big family of ingredients operating globally. Obviously there have been many stabs at this concept in earlier times, whether that’s fair trade, the living wage or the fight for human rights. But it will take more than addressing any one part. You have to address the ‘whole’.
How can we do that? How do we get around that one?
Of course, the answer’s simple! Let’s address the problem at the point of entry: babyhood and childhood. Let us put our emphasis on EDUCATION!
Let’s put the big bucks into making sure that we are all aware of how we are all part of this giant whole that is made up of very diverse ingredients.
Interestingly the Chancellor has put a sum of £300bn as the bill for coronavirus this year. Which is exactly the money I thought we needed to allocate to change our educational system so that we did not keep producing an underclass of people who never do well at school.
Of course, much of the money would be spent before you entered the school gates. There would be a power of work to be done around prevention of families falling to pieces and repeating the limitations of previous generations.
Starting from the realisation – encouraged by the curfew – that we all need each other, we could push on to an educational system that explains how our systems – of life, body, weather, society, money, poverty – work. We would explain the ingredients of what makes up oppression and what makes up useful social innovations.
I remember reading one of the big Silicon Valley chiefs complaining at the US government for not doing enough for them. And one little professor jumping up and saying that if the government had not invested in chips and computers back in the Sixties there would not be a Silicon Valley.
‘Ingredients’: no more, no less. Perhaps there’s a word for bringing this all together that should enter common parlance – ingredientism.
But then, an argument for another time: if we got the education right and the social justice and support right, who the frig is going to deliver and clean and administer to our every need? They’d all be joining the high earners, the healthy and the well paid.
John Bird is the founder and Editor in Chief of The Big Issue