It was 1666. London was in the death grip of the Great Plague. And, if there were not enough, the year would also be remembered for a great and destructive fire that tore through the heart of that city. Surely 1666 would be a year that would forever be associated with disaster. However, locked away from the clutches of the plague, was a man who used the time not to despair but to investigate the things that fascinated him. He spent hours streaming light rays through a triangular glass prism, making them disperse into a spectrum of colour, allowing him to lay the foundations for the scientific field of optics. He pondered why the moon doesn’t fall to the Earth and derived calculations that would allow mankind, for the first time ever, to predict the motion of the planets and stars in the night sky. If that were not enough, he used his mathematical skills to give us calculus; a branch of mathematics that would still be fundamental hundreds of years later. This man was Sir Isaac Newton. A man, who in the midst of a national disaster, used his isolation to have a long lasting impact on the world around him.
Today we probably will not achieve remarkable feats like Newton. Nevertheless, ordinary people are having a profound impact on the world around them. Doctors, nurses, carers and many other hospital workers are daily risking their own lives to save others. How many heroes will Carol Vorderman be congratulating on ‘Pride of Britain’ once this dark day is over? Mums and dads, usually exhausted from work, now have more time to spend with their children; helping with school work, playing games or even just having a family meal together. Elderly people, though isolated, are experiencing the kindness of strangers who have volunteered to deliver food parcels and phone them for a chat.
Let’s make today a day for achievement. We may not be on the front line with key workers, but we can still demonstrate acts of kindness. A phone call to that old friend who you keep meaning to ring but never get around to ringing. Why not play that game your child has been pestering you to play, but you can always find an excuse to avoid. Maybe you won’t impact the world to the extent that Newton did, but you can leave a deep impression in someone else’s life with just a small act of kindness.
Stay safe, be kind