Happy New Year! The new decade started with such promise. Just three months ago, the idea that a third of the global population would now be in lockdown, and that the world’s economy would have largely ground to a halt, would have seemed preposterous – the subject of apocalypse movies. But alas, the inconceivable is now the global reality. The world has fundamentally changed – for now, at least.
While it is tempting to look forward to a time when things go back to normal, the pandemic has exposed how abnormal our “normality” in fact was.
“Job security” has been shown to be a myth for millions of people. The political ambitions of some of the world’s leaders have been shown to take precedence over the lives of the people they govern. By hiking prices on essential goods, many manufacturers and retailers of essential goods have illustrated the fundamental flaws of capitalism, putting profits before the public good.
Our government struggles to politically justify lockdown and social distancing regulations in the face of the practical impossibility of compliance by millions of inhabitants of informal settlements – the product both of apartheid and a legacy of official neglect, corruption and indifference since the dawn of democracy.
On the positive side, there are reports from many places in the world of animals once more being free to roam urban precincts – their former habitats. Social media is flooded with messages urging people to consider the interests of others when deciding how to conduct themselves. Many families are spending quality time together to an extent that they have not done in a very long time. A new health consciousness is emerging.
As we pick up the pieces when the worst of the pandemic is over, let’s take care not to put them together in the same way again. Let’s reconstruct the world a little differently, restoring what was good and remodelling or discarding what was bad. We have an unprecedented opportunity to make the world a better place.
To do this, I think that it is important that we, both individually and collectively, reflect and learn from the pandemic experience. For my part, I have resolved to write, and share, a few brief reflections on Covid-19 and its broader implications for humanity and the world as a whole. This is the first of the series.
I hope that, by doing so, new insights will be kindled. As I journal my way through the epidemic, please feel free to add your own insights and opinions in the comments sections of my blogs.