John Knight's June 2020 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express

1 June 2020

Last Thursday evening, I opened my front door once more to join my neighbours and the rest of the nation and clap for the incredible work being done by our frontline carers and keyworkers.  Over the past two months, the people of these islands have made immense sacrifices to protect each other, particularly the most vulnerable.  Humanity’s inclination to be kind during COVID-19 is the greatest demonstration of solidarity the world has ever seen.

We hear of the heartbreaking sacrifices people have made - losing a last time to see a loved one, missing funerals, weddings, births and deaths.  The compassion and generosity have been extraordinary, from staying at home when we were asked, to the spontaneous growth of so many mutual aid groups, just getting stuff done.

So as we face the biggest challenge ahead - the climate crisis - we can now finally demolish the miserable mythology of human selfishness.  Hundreds and thousands of volunteers willing to risk their lives to help out, millions of keyworkers putting duty and compassion above their own safety, the mutual aid movement bringing together communities, determined to ensure that no-one suffers unnecessarily alone.

The biggest barrier to action on the climate emergency is not the science-deniers, but those who fear that humanity is incapable of acting collectively.  What leader is willing to confront people with reality, how could the economy ever adapt to become net zero, would citizens ever be willing to change their habits, much less to make hard choices for the long-term good?

Well, now we know.  We know that, when necessary, governments can sustain people while the economy goes through changes much more rapid or severe than necessary to tackle the climate crisis.  Most of all, we know that humanity has demonstrated its capacity to act together to meet a common challenge.

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