'Be kind': We need to again take heed of Norfolk's Caroline Flack

Caroline Flack

Caroline Flack. - Credit: Nathan Pask

"In a world where you can be anything, be kind."

The poignant words of Norfolk TV presenter Caroline Flack, penned just 72 days before her death at the age of just 40.

And, almost one year on from the tragedy, the message is perhaps even more relevant now than they were then.

That's because, as so many of us near the end of what has probably been the hardest year of our lives, I am seeing increasing evidence that, for some at least, kindness towards others is in short supply.

And that, as all of us struggle to get our heads around the latest restrictions on our lives, our crushed Christmases and fading hopes the corner has been turned in this horrible crisis, some are forgetting the fact that we are truly still all in this together.

One of the big positives of the first lockdown - and I know there weren't many - was the genuine wave of community spirit that swept across the nation. We clapped for carers, put rainbows in windows for children to enjoy and held socially distanced celebrations for VE Day.

It seemed then that most people understood that we were all struggling to find the best way through the pandemic.

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While, many months on, there have been some great examples of Christmas-themed community efforts all over Norfolk and Waveney, I'm afraid to say I'm also hearing many stories from individuals that make me fear the spirit of looking out for each other is not as alive and well as we'd like it to be.

I've heard of abuse in public when someone disagrees with another person's attempts at social distancing. I've heard of shop staff being abused for getting something wrong, or daring to question the need for someone to put on a facemask.

And I've also heard of NHS staff being verbally abused if the abuser doesn't agree with their interpretation of a particular situation. One devastated NHS worker told me this week they feel the messages of support conveyed by the clap for carers movement feel like a lifetime ago.

Meanwhile, delve onto social media and the lack of compassion and feeling for other people can be spotted at every turn. Conversations quickly turn ugly or personal, the only reason often being a difference of opinion.

Whereas once some people would hide behind the cloak of anonymity to say something horrible or downright nasty - now it seems an increasing number of people are happy to do so not just in their own name, but with their picture clearly attached as well. That's a definite change from a few years ago - and it worries me where that might go next.

Of course I understand fully the reasons for this. People are fed-up, down and at times depressed. Consciously or otherwise, some need an outlet for the way their feeling and at times I think that outlet can be to take it out on other people.

But I just want to remind everyone that we're all trying our hardest to get through this wretched period of our lives. I don't know of many people who aren't genuinely trying their best in a difficult situation. Let's cut each other some slack for a bit shall we? 

At this time of year when we all reflect on the person we are against the person we want to be, I would urge everyone to add Caroline Flack's words to the top of their new year's resolutions. 

"In a world where you can be anything, be kind."

* On a more positive note can I take this opportunity to thank all of our readers, on print and online, as well as those many people we work with on a daily basis, a merry Christmas and happy new year. Let's hope 2021 brings us all the positive news we so crave.

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