Days Without End is the title of the epic and intimate novel by Sebastian Barry that manages to create spaces for love and safety in the noise and chaos of history, and one of my best reads. It could also be an apt description of the extraordinary troubling times the world is going through. The daily dose of depressing news seems relentless.
But I’m an optimist, inspired by how mankind and individuals have overcome terrible events and personal traumas to build a better future. ‘Hope springs eternal,’ first used by an English essayist in 1732 describing mankind’s continuum of hope, sounds a better slogan to me.
I get that there has to be a plan and belief to overcome adversity but think how Nelson Mandela would have coped with thirty years imprisonment if he hadn’t had hope, how hope and belief drove Alexander Fleming to discover antibiotics, and how the British people during the Second-World-War hoped the war would end the way it did.
Without hope history would have been very different.
Let me share some reasons for hope.
Firstly, the virus.
Many people in the know are saying vaccines will be available for Covid-19 next year, even a chance that they’ll be one ready for selected immunisation by the end of the year: China and Russia say they are vaccinating key workers already. The earlier vaccines may have limitations, but they’ll start to stop the virus’s spread, and further development will improve them, as has happened in almost every medical advance in history. Several treatments are now in use by doctors and medical staff to lessen the severe effects of the virus, bringing the death rate down.
The doomsters say vaccines may not work, it’ll take several years to vaccinate the world’s population, they’ll be many non-vaxers, and more. Oh yeah; but look at the positive. At the outset of the pandemic, commentators said it’ll take years to have a 100% effective vaccine, and it may, but at the least, in just over nine months, we have several vaccines in trails that are showing promising results. That’s positive, and meanwhile new treatments for Covid patients will be discovered while the existing ones improve. Man’s ingenuity knows no bounds. We can send a rocket millions of light years away in space to land on a spec on a distant planet.
The virus is devastating, a million people have died worldwide, but we may be at the beginning of the beginning, and a tiny spec of light flickers at the end of the tunnel.
This week Marks and Spencer announced the end to selling milk and milk products produced from cows fed on soya grown in destroyed rain forests. In future they will only sell milk products from cows fed on an environmentally friendly feed. This is a huge step to push back on the climate crisis, and, I’m sure, many more food retailers will follow, if they already haven’t.
In Turkey, where coral reefs are dying because of global warming and man’s sea pollution, scientist have discovered ways to transplant live coral alongside almost extinct coral, which in time regenerates the reef, saving it, and bringing it back to full health.
Also this week from China: “We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly via a video link on 22 September.
All of this is encouraging, to be applauded, fuelling my optimism that man is inherently progressive, and despite setbacks and some politicians trying to manipulate events for their owns agendas, a great many people – scientists, doctors, medical practitioners, commentators, campaigners, social workers, and even sane politicians, and many others – are working to make this a better world.
My latest book, Otto and Frankie, is available in all formats. It’s different from anything else I’ve written and took almost three years in the making.
It’s about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.
I’m told it’s a compelling read.