As I stood on my doorstep last Thursday, applauding the key workers, the thought struck me again that this could be the start of something very big.
All of us out there were just making a gesture – though heartfelt, and gratefully received – but it was also a sign that we might make a better world after coronavirus.
Maybe it seems naive to talk of hope when the Prime Minister himself has been hospitalised by the virus, and people from every section of society – teenagers to pensioners, and nurses to celebrities – are among the fatalities.
But many people are responding to the pandemic with kindness and good sense – and also dreaming that a fairer, kinder world might follow the long months of isolation.
Take a look at all the good things people are doing, like gin distillers switching to making hand sanitiser and Britain’s third-richest man giving away the hand gel made in his factories.
Someone’s launched a website helping us to buy NHS staff a ‘Thank you’ beer from the comfort of our Lockdown, while the people keeping us happy and entertained – from Joe Wicks to the Stockport Spider-Man – are modern-day heroes.
For many of us, there have been silver linings to the crisis. Like the thousands of people who are using their daily exercise ration to get seriously fit.
Working from home means my wife can spend lunchtime digging her beloved allotment, while my daughter makes the house shake daily with high-intensity workouts streamed via her iPad.
We’re being more neighbourly, too. So far, we’ve rescued a birthday for a nearby family in isolation, by coming up with the missing eggs for their Dad’s cake.
We’ve got to know the names of people around us. Like one of our postmen and our allotment neighbours who we’ve always said ‘Hello’ to, but never got to know properly before.
And the other day, we cheered up our older next-door neighbours, who’re tired of shielding themselves from the virus, with a big bunch of home-grown asparagus.
Of course, there’s tonnes of stress around. From Lockdown Fever, to worrying about our loved ones. From increased domestic violence, to fretting about another economic catastrophe.
There will be lots of mess to sort out after the pandemic. But there’s already something about the way we’ve started solving problems that suggests things might be OK.
And, whatever the future holds, there is already momentum behind the idea that ordinary people – especially key workers – deserve a better deal.
Of course, a fairer future might just be an illusion fuelled by too much time spent indoors, thinking. It could be that being holed up at home has removed us from reality, and that we have no real idea of the trouble that we’re in.
Already, there’s talk of a potential ‘tsunami’ of mental health issues being unleashed post-Lockdown – particularly amongst people who have never experienced them before – which is a sobering thought in Mental Health Awareness Week.
But we have to make a start somewhere – and it seems we want to begin by being kind.
A recent poll found that a clear majority of people wanted health and wellbeing to be the main priorities for life both during and after lockdown.
Meanwhile, the explosion in bicycle use and the continued need for social distancing means that cities across the world are making more space for walkers and cyclists – which is a good start on making us kinder to our environment, too.
Perhaps waking up to clear skies and birdsong has been a game-changer for how we want to treat the planet from now on. And perhaps feeling grateful for all the people who made a difference during Lockdown will help us to be more appreciative of everyone.
Even in casual conversations nowadays, people seem to be genuinely interested in how you are – based on the knowledge that many people are struggling in one way or another, and that struggling is more OK now than it used to be.
And even seeing our friends and family members suffer from mental ill-health for the first time will – if nothing else – help some of us to understand the issue better.
It seems to me that the pandemic has laid down a new road, one that takes us in the direction of greater kindness. And it’s up to us how long we follow it for.