Written by Paola Esperson

We are living in an unprecedented challenging time…
This is true for my lifetime and probably for the majority of us, who were born and are living
in the UK or in Europe. For me this is more a “wake up call” for all of us, a wake up call to
the privileges we have experienced in our lifetime as western citizens.
As a child and young person I could study and go to school every day, catching a tube or a
bus, full of people, next to each other, making myself small to allow someone else to come
in; sometimes it felt like too much, but I miss that freedom today. It was so easy and taken
for granted that I could keep jumping on a train and reach a friend far away, go to a lecture,
a conference, meet new people and learn new things.
I could go out every day or evening, finding myself in social interactions. I could play in
quartet and perform, I could sing in a choir, I could dance tango, and in the summer dance
in the street of the village where a band was playing, celebrating the “summer joy”.
These freedoms themselves are not for all, even in western countries, they are a privilege.
Now that we have lost them, we might be able to remember, empathise and understand a
little bit more, all the barriers that disabled people meet in their everyday life.
My hope is that we won’t forget this in the future, and we will work to break barriers down.
In western countries, we took for granted our freedoms, including schools and education,
which are indeed a privilege: almost 40% of the world population does not receive basic
education, and among this population the majority are women and girls.
Locked in our homes, locked away from relationships, far from our families or too close to
a family that is abusive, worried to be a risk for the vulnerable ones, worried for our physical
health and mental health, we can see that the COVID-19 reality is lifting up the veil. The veil
of the illusion that we could have control of our lifestyle and environment, to keep running
around, pleasing our desires.
Locked in our homes, fear, loneliness, and despair can easily prevail over hope.
Nevertheless, I want to practice hope and I would like to invite you all to try, during this new
lockdown period, to feel the power inside of you.
We cannot control the world around: that is a fact. We cannot change the way others think
or behave, but we can choose how to feel, how to use our skills and energy to create the
best reality we can with “what we have”.
As artists or chefs, we can create and craft our new reality and future, a new good dish,
never tasted before, a new vision, a painting that can appear in our new reality to give hope.
Separation, intolerance, rage and disconnection would not help the world to find back the
balance between nature, the environment and humans, needed to secure a healthy future
to the next generations.
They won’t help us to keep our balance and health during this unpredictable time.
Hence here is my suggestion, let’s be creative, keep connected, reach out in a virtual world,
let’s create and keep communities alive, allow others to support us and support back.
This bit of writing is my first attempt to shake off shyness, the feeling of not being enough,
the feeling of shame “who are you to write and give suggestions?”.
I am choosing to come out, to transform fear into hope.
I trust the incredible powerful impact we could have, daring to share with others our
potential.

So please reach out, don’t be alone. Remember we all matter, “you matter”, together we
can be the silent, quiet, unseen, powerful force for change: it starts from within.