After the pandemic, we need to be able to say … THE WORLD HAS CHANGED FOR GOOD
The coronavirus pandemic has changed all our lives, not just in Britain but throughout the world. Millions have suffered. Many thousands have died. Many more have lost relatives, friends and loved ones. I t has been a global disaster on a scale which most people alive today have never witnessed before, and, in addition to all the personal tragedies, it has undermined our vision of the world we thought we knew and many things that we had taken for granted.
The COVID-19 shut-down has been a time of fear and uncertainty, and much suffering, but it has also given us all time to pause and re-examine our lives and the society we live in. A time for getting back to basics, and understanding that the things that really matter most are the essentials of food, shelter, good health, and having a supportive community around us. A time of crisis when we really have been “all in it together”, and which in many cases has brought out the best in us.
As the enforced restrictions on our lives are gradually relaxed, we cannot expect everything to just return to the way it used to be, and it is not right that it should. Despite the awful losses and hardship we have had to endure, there are also some good things we can take out of the COVID experience. The world before COVID-1 9 was far from perfect, and previous problems like climate breakdown and mass extinctions have not gone away. Attempting to return to the old “business as usual” is likely to make matters worse, not better. The challenge now is to find a New Normal which can provide a truly sustainable future for us all.
WHAT IS THE NEW NORMAL?
“The New Normal” has become the phrase of the moment in this time of coronavirus. Everyone is asking “Is this the new normal?”, or “What does the, new normal look like?” In the space of three or four months the old world and its old certainties have gone, and we all know that whatever replaces them will be different, but nobody knows exactly how different or what direction it will all take. The new world is up for grabs, and we have a chance to define it in a way we have never had before in our lifetimes and will never have again.
The New Normal is a set of ideas which must encompass the positive changes we want to see in the world. For decades various ‘mad’ visionaries have told us “another world is possible”, and most have refused to believe them. Now we see the world turned upside down, with unbelievable, impossible things happening every day (even a Tory government pledged to spend “whatever it takes”! ), and we know another world is not just possible, but both necessary and inevitable. But we need to define that vision to be the best we can make it, and then do whatever it takes to bring it about.
The New Normal we need has to include the positive aspects of the changes which have come through the coronavirus crisis. The new sense of community and caring for our neighbours (in the old New Testament sense of everyone is my neighbour). The huge reductions in road traffic, air traffic and pollution. The re-evaluation of the people and jobs that we now realise are essential to all our survival. The sounds of birdsong, and the appreciation of nature. The importance of family and “nearest and dearest”.A society which takes homeless people off the streets and gives them somewhere to stay. The re-ordering of priorities away from the daily grind of meaningless jobs and towards home and quality time and the things which really matter.
It means integrating all that with the changes we know have to come about to meet the other crises of the climate and ecological emergencies. I t means rebuilding our economy, not by seeking to preserve or recreate what went before, but through a “Green New Deal” creating a new world in which every house is properly insulated, every kilowatt is renewably generated, everyone has enough to eat and enough money to live on, and every bit of fossil fuel stays in the ground.
A future vision to bring us hope.