Misanthropic Maverick – reflections on a lost year
I am writing this on New Year’s Eve, joining in what is probably a world-wide reflection on 2020 and the fact that, for most, it was a shocker.
What have I learned, on the basis of this reflection? Firstly, that I am a Maverick , and a Misanthropic one too. This revelation hit me early in 2020, thanks to the Editor of this magazine and Maverick Extraordinaire, Judith Germain. This fact hit me hard and true – and has been massively helpful to me throughout the year as I struggled to reconcile, why my responses to the year and its dominant pandemic focus did not match those of people around me. My thoughts on this and how it affected me during lockdown are recorded in earlier pieces held on this magazine site.
Secondly, despite my misanthropic viewpoint, I have come to realise with fervent gratitude that there really ARE some truly wonderful people out there, and I am thankful they exist and do what they do so splendidly. NHS workers at all levels, carers and social workers, teachers, police, bin collectors, voluntary sector key workers, fire fighters and even Service personnel, drafted in sometimes to provide reinforcements during the pandemic. All of these people and many more found themselves in the front line in the fight against the pandemic, and they did so voluntarily, unselfishly and bravely. Worth recognition with something more lasting and material than a few token-gesture claps, in my view.
Thirdly, I have learned that, sadly, my misanthropy is still well-placed, with the people who have still stolen, still harmed others, still acted appallingly to employees, still failed to lead on a catastrophic level and generally failed to behave decently to others throughout 2020. The incidence of domestic violence has risen and mental ill-health is at record levels – both these acute needs for state action have been exacerbated by pathetic levels of resourcing at a national level which has then been further whittled away at the local level. Some people have still scammed the vulnerable, exploiting older people’s lack of savvy when it comes to online. Some people have maintained their narrow racist, homophobic and misogynist views and promoted them ever wider because more lockdown time allowed more time to troll.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly of all, I have found that all the trite verbiage about “the human spirit” from this past year may, just may, be true. I have seen better understanding between local residents previously riven by Brexit and other rival causes. I have seen better communication between organisations and their customers (“need to know” really streamlines those marketing puff emails). Most intriguingly, I have seen ordinary people envisage extraordinary things, and then achieve them – even exceed them in the case of Capt Sir Tom Moore and many other fundraisers throughout the year. A lot of people, doing great things quietly, without a massive impact, but doing what they could to make things a bit better for themselves and those around them. Often, I have seen this, either in person or via media, as someone embarrassedly shrugging and saying “well, it’s nothing really – you just do what you can”. And yet, doing what they could has meant the world to someone else. By doing something differently, checking what was needed to make the most immediate difference, being brave enough to give something a try, in the hope it would work but willing to accept if it didn’t … and then try something else again.
Reflections on a lost year
And what makes them prepared to keep on trying to succeed? For some, it may be indomitable spirit. For others, it could be blind, dogged, stubbornness. I am hopeful, however, that for some others, they have discovered the unbridled joy that comes with recognising they are Mavericks too. Wilfully independent thinkers becoming wilfully independent doers, making a real difference simply because they could.
That’s a lovely thought and one that will sustain me through 2021, whatever it throws at us.
If you have read this and the wilful independence idea rings true for you, please subscribe to this magazine and join the Maverick movement.
 Maverick – defined by Judith Germain as wilfully independent since 2005. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders (PublishNation 2017) J Germain