SO 2020 was the year when almost every big event had to be cancelled or moved online, writes Dr Martin Warner.

There was, of course, no Brighton Pride, a huge gap in the cultural kaleidoscope.

Its loss, due to the Covid pandemic, might prompt us to ask what we have missed. There are some obvious answers.

We have missed the income. Shops, hotels, pubs, market traders have all taken a hit from the loss of this showcase event that brings crowds and cash into Brighton.

There has also been a cultural hit. The Pride march is its own piece of theatre: design, concept, imagination, and socio-political comment are essential ingredients in any procession.

And there’s an emotional hit. Brighton Pride is an exuberant affirmation that LGBTQ people are a distinctive element of everyday life. Like Brighton rock, the rainbow signature runs all the way through the local identity.

The Argus: Pride Parade 2019 Picture:Terry ApplinPride Parade 2019 Picture:Terry Applin

In any other year, the first weekend of August would also have witnessed a similar sort of cultural event in Leicester, but with a different theme. The Caribbean Carnival is a street procession that celebrates Leicester’s racial diversity.

In the early 1990s I served as a priest in a large parish in Leicester, working among Hindu Asians in Belgrave and a large Caribbean population closer to the city centre.

My proudest moment was driving the trailer for our primary school’s steel band.

I was one of very few white people, perhaps the only one, driving in that procession and would like to think that as a priest the colour of my skin was of no importance.

But that can never be the case. Things that we take for granted are always of importance in some way.

The more challenging issue is whether we make them the only thing that is important. And if we do, it’s inevitable that we begin to label ourselves and each other, and then putting those labels into a pecking order that values some and denigrates others.

One of the very attractive aspects of the parade events in Brighton and in Leicester was seeing people take a pride in the diversity of their community as a gift that enriches everyone.

As 2020 ends and we stand at the beginning of a new year, we will all wish to grieve for the losses of the year that has passed.

Death will be the most widespread cause of our grief.

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The death of loved ones, in many cases without being able to see them, causes grief that is deep and raw.

We have also witnessed the death of hopes and dreams. Businesses, jobs, cultural and community organisations have all faced the bitterness of loss and even termination.

Young people have faced as sense of loss, in the experience of school, college and university that has drastically limited social and education opportunities.

And overwhelmingly there is a loss of national pride in ourselves, our national institutions, our international reputation and our local communities.

Pride is a shockingly destructive quality when it is fed by things we take for granted as the only things that are important.

This is the pride that is comfortable with building a personal fortune on the exploitation of others.

It is as evident today in the retail world, as it has been historically in the criminal treatment of LGBTQ people and the scandal of slavery.

History shows us that one of the damaging effects of emotional and economic exploitation is the destruction of another person’s pride and self-esteem.

Covid, Brexit, Windrush, Grenfell, a marked decline in the standards of respect and truth in public life and the loss of communal celebrations of social inclusion and mutual enrichment: these have made a toxic blend of circumstances.

It has damaged our pride in who we are and can be as a nation, at our generous and imaginative best.

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So my hope for 2021 is that we learn how to build a new sense of national pride, very different from those forms of patriotism that are used to denigrate other people.

Let us take pride in a sense of the future seen through the eyes of young people, addressing their fears, giving space to their plans and aspirations and entrusting to them the imagination and resources for the care and needs of those they often instinctively understand – the elderly.

As we build pride and confidence in each other, let us be brave enough to benefit from our inherited resources. From the Christian tradition of wisdom, I hope use could be made of building human dignity founded on the discipline of delight.

The Bible speaks of God delighting to be with the human race.

Delight is a serious quality, it sees people and things for what they are, not overlooking the flaws but attending to their freedom and realisation of potential.

It’s fantastic news that we have a Covid vaccine.

But unless we learn the challenging lessons from this past year of lockdown and loss, the vaccine will not, of itself, make 2021 the year in which we find pride and delight in being the people of this nation.