Coronavirus has stopped the 9-5 clock, jammed the hamster wheel and disrupted the rat race.
That’s left a big gap in a lot of lives and it’s a gap that needs filling.
Maybe we should use this time as a gift, an opportunity to re-evaluate, reset and do things differently.
So how do we do that?
That most prolific of science fiction writers Isaac Asimov died in 1992. But this quote of his seems perfect for today.
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
But there’s a problem; as human beings, we find it difficult to learn and adapt to new situations: because we are always looking for precedence, for authority from our past experiences to guide us. To tell us what we’re supposed to do now.
And precedence for the situation we find ourselves in today doesn’t exist. OK, we can draw comparisons with HIV/AIDS, Spanish Flu and even Bubonic Plague. But we didn’t live in those times. We weren’t there, and any lessons that may be learnt from them are the preserve of the academics.
Unprecedented is an overused phrase, but in the case of Coronavirus, it’s entirely appropriate.
So, in the absence of any guidance from the past, what sensible decisions can we make right now? Should we even make any? Let’s look at the choices.
Oh, and before we start, I’m choosing to ignore one possible choice you could make. It’s the one where you choose to call BS on the whole thing and blame it on 5G or the Chinese. That’s before donning your tactical gear, picking up your assault rifle and heading for the streets. If you’re in that camp you’ll probably not be reading this anyway. But if by any chance you are, then may I politely suggest that you go take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.
I guess the first ‘sensible’ option is to just go with the flow. Everything is so screwed up anyway there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe it’s best to trust those in authority. They know what they’re doing. Everything will work itself out and we’ll be back to normal soon.
OK, fair enough, we could do that. The majority of us will. There are a lot of sheeple on this planet.
But it’s not a path I’ll be taking and I’ll tell you why.
Let’s take trust in authority first.
Well, here in the UK we are led by a guy who before he was Prime Minister, toured the country campaigning for us to leave the EU. He had a bus painted with the slogan ‘We send the EU £350 million a week – Let’s fund our NHS instead’.
That £350 million figure was false, a deliberate fabrication designed to shock. The true figure was nearer £234 million. It ended up being irrelevant anyway. The costs of the whole Brexit debacle have far exceeded the UK’s contribution to the EU anyway. The bottom line is this. Mr Johnson and his cronies told lies and promised that the NHS would get a shed load of funding if folks voted to leave the EU; did it happen? Did it buggery.
Not only that but in the 10 years his party have been in power funding for the NHS has been continuously slashed.
Now, of course, he and his cronies are falling over themselves to jump on the bandwagon of praise for our wonderful NHS. They’re oh so happy to encourage folks out onto the street every Thursday evening to show their appreciation for the heroes and heroines putting their lives on the line for us. Heroes and heroines many of whom came here from the EU and were left alienated and afraid by this same governments proposal to end immigration and stop free movement.
These unprincipled and dishonest so-called public servants are even brazen enough to use a 100-year-old war veteran as an example of what makes them proud to be British. They must be laughing all the way down the corridors of No 10 seeing Captain Tom raising £32 million for the NHS from a public who’s taxes are supposed to fund it properly in the first place.
Maybe recent events and experiences may make them think again. Surely Mr Johnson’s personal experience of lying in a hospital bed recently must have changed his outlook. I do hope so.
But my scepticism remains. The ship of trust in those that lead us has long since sailed.
Forgive my little rant. In truth I’m apolitical. As far as I’m concerned they’re all as bad as each other. A necessary evil that keeps the system going. But populist leaders like Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro are the very worst of a bad bunch and they deserve no respect whatsoever.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes…
So what about things working themselves out and us getting back to normal? Hmm, there’s that word ‘normal’ again. I never did like it. I like the now commonly used ‘new normal’ even less.
Perhaps I’d phrase that question differently. How about ‘will things return to the way they were BcoV?
Surely the answer to that question has to be NO.
Too much has changed. Our certainties have been shaken to their foundations. Our values have been tested and our attitudes have altered.
And that’s just in our internal world.
Unless and until an effective vaccine is developed and distributed globally some level of control will have to be retained. Even after that the fear of it all happening again will remain. The way we live our day to day lives will inevitably change.
Business and commerce will drive those changes. When they change society changes. The last time it happened was during the Industrial Revolution. In a few decades the manufacturing of goods moved from small workshops and homes to huge factories. People were forced to fundamentally change the way they worked and lived.
It’ll be the same ACoV except it’ll happen much faster.
Offices full of people were already in decline and the pace of that decline is going to increase dramatically. Companies that were resisting home working now know what’s possible. The dams have collapsed on that one.
Manufacturing industries will speed up their adoption of robotics and automation. Robots don’t call in sick.
Any business that relied on staff and customers interacting closely together is going to have to adapt or die.
Think about that. Shopping, socialising, eating out, sport, travel, education. It’s hard to think of any activities that won’t be affected.
Then there’s the creep of authoritarianism. Big brother is going to get bigger, and fast. Tracking our movements, recording who we meet and where we met them, restricting where we go and when. BCoV any attempt by governments to bring in stuff like this would have resulted in riots. Now we’re signing up to tracking apps with a sense of public duty.
Coronavirus testing involves taking swabs that contain our DNA. The very essence of who we are will be on a database somewhere.
Will all of these things be rolled back and discarded ACoV. Of course not.
The question was will things return to the way they were BcoV? No, no they won’t.
So where does that leave us? How can we do anything other than nothing?
There’s a lot we don’t know and a lot we can’t know. Convention says that makes logical decisions hard to make.
But there’s another way to make decisions. It’s one I’ve used myself for years and most of the time it’s worked better than I could ever have expected.
I follow my gut. I do what feels right. I trust the Universe.
It’s simple but it’s not easy.
A lot of the time it’ll push you towards decisions that others will think crazy. But then again crazy is the ‘new normal’ right? So why worry about what others think?
Perhaps there’s never been a better time to listen to our common sense, our imaginations, our eccentricities and not our programming.
Coronavirus kills and it causes pain. But it’s also a truth serum and we’ve all been exposed to it.
That exposure has opened our eyes to the truth about what really matters in our lives. It’s shown us the truth about who we are. It’s reminded us that we’re mortal, and surely that’s the ultimate truth.
Could it be that this horrible virus has opened a door into a better world?
Before the virus, the world was becoming more divided with each passing day. We were getting better at hating our enemies, ignoring people we didn’t know, distrusting anyone who didn’t look like us. In this country, we’d been split into Brexiteers and Remainers.
But the virus didn’t care. As far as it was concerned we were all just humans crowded together on a little planet. It treated us all with the same contempt.
There have been some beneficial side effects to that. Now we live in a world where those past divisions seem irrelevant, people have more empathy. We’ve become better at looking out for each other.
John F Kennedy once said:
Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.
The virus has surely strengthened that link.
The world is a different place from what it was a few short months ago. We are different people from who we were a few short months ago.
We still have time to consider how we might make the most of those changes.
Yes, you could choose to do nothing. But I think that’d be a shame. I think you could do better.
Listen to yourself.
Make some good choices.
Change what you know deep down needs changing.
Become a better person living a better life in a better world.