The worst of years brought out the best - leader comment

Few of us will not have spent some time at Christmas reflecting on the events of an extraordinary year, and hoping against hope that better times are to come.

NHS staff clapping for carers in April
NHS staff clapping for carers in April

The strangest festive season most of us will ever have experienced will soon give way to muted celebrations heralding the arrival of 2021. There will be no fireworks, no street parties, no hugging strangers, just an overwhelming sense of relief that 2020 is behind us.

But while we look back on the grief and hardship that the nation has endured, we should also take time to remember that 2020 showed us the very best of humanity in the worst of times.

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The sense of community, which many no doubt feared had been lost forever, returned to our streets. Simple acts of kindness brightened days. Neighbours who perhaps had barely shared a glance in the past found themselves on their doorsteps – clapping – every Thursday without fail, together celebrating the health heroes and key workers who got us through. There for one another.

Amid the appalling tragedy which has been visited upon the country, we should not lose sight of this pandemic of kindness and pray that it does not disappear as quickly as it arrived.

As the vaccines are thankfully rolled out, we can look forward to life slowly getting back to some kind of normal as we move through 2021.

And as that happens, o ur attention will quickly be diverted to the Holyrood election campaign in what is certainly the most significant election since the parliament was established. That will lead to old wounds being opened, polarised positions being adopted and ferocious debate about the future of the nation.

Debate is healthy when it is conducted with respect and the understanding that someone else may not share your point of view, a willingness to listen and an acceptance of the right to disagree.

All sides should keep this in mind as the clock ticks down to polling day and take seriously the responsibility to reinforce the message at every opportunity. The year 2020 has much about it which we would all rather forget. We hope, however, the kindness, togetherness and faith in each other which we all found is remembered for a long time.