Freedom is without doubt the greatest gift of all

Willy setting out on bike

Ready to go on the new bike

“To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  Nelson Mandela

Freedom is without doubt the greatest gift of all. As lockdown became a reality, the freedoms we take for granted were curtailed in so many ways.  On the other hand we have had the opportunity to reflect on our lifestyles and read those books that have been on the shelf for a few – well many – years.

I have to say that the pace of work has not let up.  The hours spent in virtual meetings can be quite gruelling.  There are more papers to read, more decisions to be made, and no time to think while travelling between meetings. It has been a fascinating rollercoaster.

Thankfully, technology has given us the freedom to continue to engage with our partners, young people, colleagues and residents - as well as our families. 

Those who enjoy the sunshine have been able to relish the last few weeks.  But think about those who do not have gardens to sit in, who have children at home while they are trying to work from that home, those for whom the local park is a haven.  Life will not have been easy.

Those trapped in their homes with an abusive partner will have lived in fear for weeks, with little respite.  The support is there, but I appreciate that the freedom to access it will have been restricted.  That’s why reports of abuse are now rising.

As lockdown eases further, with the prospect of non-essential shops re-opening, will this bring further challenges for our police?  Will there be a spike in shoplifting, will assaults and robberies increase, will we see social distancing ignored as people seek out some retail therapy?

I’ve no doubt that, like me, many people will have missed the liberty to do what they want.  I have missed the variety and freedom of choice.  Personally, I am now finding the lack of variety quite exhausting, but as a nation most of us have done what was necessary for the greater good – we stayed home, we stayed safe, to save lives.

This was a conscious, responsible decision.  Going forward, the police will have to police this new and changing world.  In contrast to some other countries, we have always policed by our consent.  That consent has been tested during lockdown, but I believe that most of us appreciate the challenges that have been faced. 

Things won’t change overnight, but I do hope for a little more freedom, a little more variety.  I accept that ongoing easing of restrictions will depend on the number of cases of the virus.  We will do what we must do for the greater good.  But we are all in the same boat, pulling together to find a way through this period and back to the freedom we rather took for granted.

Willy Bach

29 May 2020

Posted on Friday 29th May 2020
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