When I read that the “Clap for Heroes” was returning this Thursday, my eyes rolled back so hard that I almost pulled a muscle. What I thought was going to be an unpopular opinion, that clapping outside your doorstep once a week actually does very little to help and is actually just a weird, cult-like thing we seem to have normalised, turned out to be a widely shared thought.
Let’s just preface this by saying, of course, showing your appreciation for teachers, carers, parents, nurses and so forth, is obviously not intrinsically a bad gesture of support. Amazingly, we don’t live in a binary world where things are either one way or another!
But the idea of clapping to the cold, sterile air on your doorstep every evening is as performative an action as posting a black square on your Instagram in support of Black Lives Matter, or saying “it’s okay to talk” but never taking the time and energy to reach out to those struggling. It’s the lowest, laziest form of activism and appreciation, and more often than not, only done to make the person doing it feel better about themselves than to help any sort of cause or group.
And let’s briefly touch upon the wording. The way key workers and health workers have been labelled “heroes” and “angels” since the inception of this pandemic has troubled me greatly. There’s a lot of power in words, and by deifying those who continue to be at risk from catching COVID-19, by elevating them and making them seem otherworldly, it removes their humanity. When they get ill and die, their lives are seen as sacrifices and contributions to a greater cause, bigger than themselves. These are ordinary people, doing extraordinary things. They don’t want medals or acclaim, they want support, fair wages, and acceptable living standards.
In the past 24 hours, the United Kingdom suffered more COVID deaths, 1,041, than Australia has since the beginning of the pandemic, 909.
Over the course of almost a year, there have been tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths of parents, children, healthcare workers, teachers, the homeless, minorities.
This was not unavoidable. Those deaths were not inevitable.
“The oldies were going to die anyway” is in no way an acceptable rebuttal to the government’s slow reaction to this pandemic.
So I urge the people who are thinking about showing their appreciation through clapping once a week. When the time comes, do not forget to hold this government accountable. Do not forget the utter shambles that has been our leadership. Do not believe for a second that they did the best they could. We have a few years to go until our next general election, which is unfortunately ample time for those in charge to rewrite history and make it seem like they handled it well. Do not forget any of this.
Show your appreciation by wearing a mask when you leave your home. Keep your distance. Do not believe conspiracy nonsense about vaccinations. Do not take everything you see online at face value. You are not stuck at home, you are safe at home.
Don’t clap, vote.
P.S. If you’re tired of staring at your own home, and in need of a brand-new view, this website lets you see through the windows of other people’s houses all around the world. Enjoy! https://www.window-swap.com/