Love in the Time of Corona
Welcome, dear Rabbit Fans, to March 2020. It has been a difficult few weeks, and I know you will already be sick of endless emails offering different companies' takes on the virus, opening, closing, takeaways and online-only sales. It is tough out there. I'm sure you're familiar with the five stages of grief, ranging from denial to eventual acceptance. Where would you put us on the scale?
For me, we have reached the "fixed grin" stage of the Coronavirus. Everyone is doing their best to muck in (albeit safely), community spirit is at an all-time high, and neighbours are watching out for each other. How long it lasts will, you suspect, depend on how long people have cash in their bank accounts.
It would be easy to implore you to think of independent businesses, small retailers like Eighteen Rabbit who face big problems in the weeks ahead. Or to consider hospitality businesses, cafes, bars and restaurants, who right now will be trying to work out how to pay this week's wages. I could even take the moral high ground and ask you to consider our suppliers, artisans and entrepreneurs in the developing world who rely on fair trade retailers in the west to give their amazing products a market.
But I think the truth is that no-one knows where we are going, how this will end, or what situation we'll be in once the dust has settled. I am often characterised as a slightly Pollyanna-ish character, and I have to admit there is a part of me which would quite like to see a world where emissions from industry and aviation have fallen, people feel more in touch with their communites, and ideas such as a universal basic income are being seriously considered rather than dismissed out of hand. Equally, I can see storm clouds ahead over drug patents, nations taking an isolationist approach to protecting their citizens, and a spiraling pit of mental health issues.
Fair trade - the concept that people should be treated fairly - ultimately comes from a place of love. It would be nice to think that this current crisis can inspire us to see the world as a place we need to cherish and nurture, to see people around us as fellow human beings rather than foreigners or aliens, and to see wealth and capital as something to be shared as a common treasury rather than hoarded by latter-day dragons. We'll see which way the dice fall.
Stay safe out there! Huge thanks to Rabbit Fan and Boaty Buddy Danette St Onge for the inspired title of this blog.