Have you noticed how quiet everywhere sounds? If you step outside for your single piece of daily exercise, just pause for a moment and listen. What can you hear? The answer is probably very little.
So much is not happening that our islands are sounding much quieter than usual. There are fewer people outdoors. There’s less traffic on our roads. And perhaps that’s why Clap For Our Carers made such an impact last week.
At 8pm last Thursday evening a social media campaign got thousands of people to stand on the doorsteps, in their gardens, on balconies or just behind open windows and clap their hands for one minute to show all those working in healthcare how much they are appreciated. It shattered that silence which has descended over our world and doctors and nurses came out to hear people near and far sending a loud ‘Thank you’ through the applause.
- WATCH: Last week thousands of people clapped for carers
I spoke to my mum last Thursday evening. She’s not on social media and when I asked her whether she was clapping from her front door earlier in the evening she seemed confused. She didn’t know anything about it. Then it dawned on her – “Oh that must have been what I heard earlier. I thought it was somebody letting off fireworks.” And she then realised it was the clapping she had heard. If she had known she might have taken part.
Now - I did know about it. I’d heard about it earlier in the day but I wasn’t sure how many people would actually do it. I worried I’d feel silly standing outside clapping into the night sky.
And I always feel slightly awkward taking part in things like that because of my job. As journalists we are expected to separate ourselves from the things we are reporting on, to make sure we are impartial. We observe things and then tell people about them. We don’t take part ourselves. I worried this was something I should be documenting rather than doing.
Then I saw the pictures. I heard the applause. I saw the footage on TV of the doctors and nurses moved to tears by the simple gesture of appreciation and I suddenly felt sad I’d missed the chance to join a big communal moment that really meant something to those who heard it.
There are some rare occasions where there is no need for us as journalists to separate ourselves and this is clearly one of them. We are reporting on a story which affects us all equally. We are not exempt from being affected. Yes we must question and scrutinise those making decisions about how we deal with the outbreak. But fundamentally there is only one side to this. We need to save as many lives as we can and it’s our frontline healthcare staff who are doing that for all of us.
So tonight I’ll be going outside for one minute at 8 o’clock and I’ll be clapping twice as loud to make up for the clapping I didn’t do last week. We’re all in this together.
- Read more of James' blogs here.