On a personal level, too, there are countless acts of kindness. A colleague who has just been required to self-isolate because of a suspected case of the contagion in his household tells me he has received innumerable messages of goodwill and concern. Meanwhile, some supermarket chains are showing they have a human heart after all, and that profit is not their only concern. For example, Sainsbury’s has announced it will open only to the elderly and vulnerable for the first hour of trading, and will prioritise such people for home deliveries.
So despite appalling stories of hoarding and mindless partying and other examples of self-indulgence, we should remember that tens of thousands of selfless volunteers are already giving up their time.
Nor should we fall into the error of believing that our forefathers in the war, magnificent as most of them were, were all self-denying and universally perfect. As we look back somewhat mistily to that last great challenge our nation faced (though surely one incomparably greater than this one), we tend to forget those crooks who made money out of the black market.
Later generations laughed fondly at Dad’s Army’s Private Walker, the black market spiv always offering fellow members of the Home Guard attractive deals. At the time, though, such people were widely regarded with horror, and not as a subject for humour.