This July we are looking forward to the Governments ruling regards social distancing and other Pandemic reducing measures, which distressingly have dominated all our lives for the past eighteen months. Indeed, 19th July has been called ‘Freedom Day’ in the media. The word freedom stirs certain emotions, it implies release and an escape or loosening of bondage; for us currently it means an end to the restrictions which were put in place to defeat our common enemy, the Covid 19 pandemic virus.
So, let’s look at what the month of July normally entails: Gardening, the Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon lawn tennis championships begin. However, when I think of July, I also think of Independence Day in the USA and 4th of July fireworks celebrations. There, huge crowds gather to see and enjoy the pyrotechnics display over the Hudson River. This spectacular display can easily cost over 1 million dollars each year. At the West Indian Day Carnival; in Brooklyn the Caribbean population celebrates its heritage with a parade of enormous floats and lavish feathered costumes in a multitude of colours is celebrated with laughter, street dancing with wild abandon and exuberance to pulsing rhythmic music, calypso, reggae etc. Street stands offer spicy aromatic food with Caribbean and American specialities. The economy and other problems are forgotten for a short while.
Looking very loosely at History and Freedom, I also thought about Nelson Mandela’s book the long walk to Freedom. The book tells of his early life, education, his 20 plus years in prison and his campaign for freedom and justice, his views on freedom and pays tribute to freedom fighters.
In England, National Insurance began in July 1912 and the National Health Service came into operation in July 1948. They aimed to provide universal free medical and healthcare benefits based on citizenship. Both of these events were designed to provide both protection and freedom from wants, loss of income in respect of sickness, maternity, old age, injury, disability and death; in essence, freedom against the cost of health care. Though costly, our NHS has nonetheless protected many of us over for over 60 years in our individual and collective times of need.
On 2nd July 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the American Civil Rights Bill, ending segregation and gaze freedom from laws and statutes which legalized racial segregation in America; these laws had marginalized African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold decent jobs or get education and opportunities to improve their lives
So whilst Covid 19 has restricted our collective physical and spiritual freedom to go where we want and do what we want, it has also liberated some people creative and entrepreneurial skills. On 19th July 2021, we looked with anticipation to hear what we will be permitted to do. We are now looking to August as the month to end other restrictions. Many people are looking forward to go abroad for their summer vacation and have the freedom to go back to life as we know it pre-Covid.