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Paul McNamee: Our readers are leading the charge to make things better

Words sometimes are inadequate to express the deep, bottomless pool of gratitude all of us at The Big Issue feel for you

It is hard to keep up.

Every day feels like a concentration of a month’s news. Previously, coronavirus acted as the black hole, sucking in light and gravity and bending us to its will.

Then, the world started to waken up.

America looks like a failing state simmering and learning little, lurching between martial law and a coup d’état. That beacon of the free is very dimmed.

As we go to print, new details are being revealed about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, bringing the horrors of that story back into full glare. Authorities said she is “assumed dead”. What anguish her family have faced in the years since she disappeared in 2007.

One of the things that the new details also brought was an emergence, blinking out of some dark swamp, of a self-confident, ignorant and malignant subset of people who take pleasure in saying they know some truth and pointing the finger, still, at the McCanns themselves.

The internet allows a lot of theories and theorising to grow unchecked. We know this to be true. And when certain falsehoods are challenged those doing the challenging can come under attack. More frustratingly, by challenging they also, ironically, risk legitimising the falsehood.

I’ve tried to understand why somebody would wish to be the sort of person who takes pleasure in publicly, and baselessly, accusing a grieving family of the worst crime. It’s hard to hold back a reaction to them. But we should not engage.

It comes from the same desire to prove that vaccinations don’t work. In the midst of the biggest global hunt for a vaccination in a century, powerful people and lobby groups are still hammering on with their empty rhetoric. One of the most prominent global anti-vaxxer voices is Robert Kennedy Jnr. That’s some legacy of Camelot! Family ties don’t guarantee wisdom. But the anti-vaxxers will allow a rise in measles and other deadly conditions that medicine had helped contain.

Despite the certainty of the wrong-headed and faceless bullies on the march, I remain optimistic. I am one of those annoying people who sees a glass not as half full, but as the promise of a great night opening up ahead.

With every action you are making things better

And I remain optimistic now because of what has happened during lockdown. Our weekly Covid Crusaders page has been a snapshot of how the good will out. Specifically, from this vantage, I remain optimistic because of how you, and so many others, rallied around The Big Issue.

When we asked you to come to us and subscribe, you subscribed. When we told you we were going into shops, you followed and you bought this magazine. You supported the app, you are enjoying The Big Raffle, you are listening to The Big Miss You podcast and you are sending messages to your local vendor. With every action you are making things better.

Words sometimes are inadequate to express the deep, bottomless pool of gratitude all of us at The Big Issue feel for you.

The rebuild that will be needed across society post this crisis to help prevent so many, many people falling into bleak poverty will be a challenging task. Two weeks ago we pledged to find a way to lead the fight. That pledge remains and strengthens.

It is not blind optimism that is carrying it. We know you’ll be with us.

Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue