Elephants are known to be kind and empathetic. After the first month or so of lockdown in Edinburgh, my mind has kept going back to how important it is for us to reconnect with nature, and to be attentive to the simple lessons that birds and animals have long known, lessons we seem to have forgotten as we have evolved: about kindness and empathy, about living in harmony with one another and with nature…. As the weeks have turned into months in lockdown, my family and I have valued the opportunity to spend time outdoors, albeit initially limited to our back garden and the meadows. In more recent weeks, we have been able to go hill walking, and my 4.5 year old has learnt to climb trees (a skill I suspect he wouldn’t have otherwise learnt given our urban lifestyle) and as I pick a flower or two on our walks he insists that I not pick the ones that the bees would miss! I hope we’ll remember to carry with us these learnings into a future free from the spectre of covid-19. If the rise in racial violence points to the dire need to embrace these learnings, the mutual aid groups that have been formed offer a ray of hope.
Radhika Govinda is a feminist sociologist whose work is on the gender politics of development, intersectionality and feminist knowledge production. She lives and works in Edinburgh, and can be reached at Radhika.Govinda@ed.ac.uk. Twitter: @GovindaRadhika