In the midst of fear and isolation, we are learning that profound, positive change is possible.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, our future will never be anything like the past. Our economy, our priorities, our perceptions will never be what they used to be. Things that were supposed to be unstoppable stopped and things that were supposed to be impossible have already happened.
We now have reached a crossroad. Emerging from what we assumed was normality, one of our main tasks is now to understand this moment, what this moment might require of us and what it might make possible.
The coronavirus is changing the world and our view of it. Our focus on what matters is now shifting. For most of us, the coronavirus pandemic deeply affected our lives. What was hidden is now emerging as a new reality: what is weak will break, what is strong will hold.
People change as our priorities are shifting
As everything is shifting around us, the coronavirus pandemic is allowing us to see, with new clarity, the economic, political and social systems in which we are immersed. The first lesson the pandemic is teaching us is that everything is interconnected, that disasters begin suddenly and never really end. The insanity of the “Trump Saga” is an extraordinary demonstration of this sad reality.
In a crisis, the powerful often try to seize more power and, those who benefit most from the shattered status quo are often more focused on preserving or re-establishing it, reaffirming their power than protecting human life. This his is what Trump is now telling us when he is more concerned about being re-elected for a second term than preserving the lives of the people and his constituents. This his is what Trump demonstrates when he is prioritizing profit and property over human life and community.
Historically, there have always been titans of business, like Trump who would always prize profit and their own interests over human life, who would pay bribes in order to operate unhindered, who would worked children to death or put laborers in mortal danger in sweatshops and coal mines, who would privilege fossil fuel extraction and burning despite what they know, or refuse to know, about climate change. For people like Trump, one of the primaries uses of wealth has always been to buy their way out of the common fate.
While the rich are often conservative, conservatives more often align with the rich and famous, whatever their economic status. People like Trump know it and never miss on and occasion to capitalize on this reality. The idea that everything is connected and interconnected is an affront to conservatives who cherish a “Macho every-man-for-himself frontier fantasy”.
Everything being connected and interconnected, the consequences of every choice and decision made by people like Trump, their every action and every word they say have to be closely examined. What we, "The People", see as "love in action", they see it as an impingement upon absolute freedom, freedom being another word for absolutely no limits on the pursuit of their own self-interest.
The denial of science
Ultimately, a significant portion of ultra conservatives like Trump will regard science as an annoyance that they can and will refuse to recognize insisting on the fact that they can choose whatever rules and facts they want, just as free-market commodities to pick and choose from or remake according to their whims.
This denial of science and critical thinking among ultra conservatives now haunts the world response to the coronavirus crisis. Following the path of Donald J. Trump, some world leaders are showing little willingness to recognize the ominous possibilities of the coronavirus pandemic.
These people are failing in their most important job, to protect the people and human life. Denying that failure is a major focus for them. While it may be inevitable, if taken lightly, that the pandemic will result in a world economic crash, it is also turning into opportunities for authoritarian power grabs.
The storm will clear
It is my wish that when the coronavirus pandemic storm will clear, we will see where we were, where we are and where we should go in a new light. It is my wish that that we will feel free to pursue change in ways that seemed impossible before. It is my wish that when the coronavirus pandemic storm will be over, that we will have acquired a profoundly different sense of ourselves, our communities, our economic and political systems and even our future.
For many of us, what has changed most immediately is only spatial: we stayed home and distentiate from contact with others; we withdrawn from schools, bars, clubs, churches, mosques, synagogues, gyms, and workplaces; we withdrawn from the busyness and bustle of everyday life. To protect ourselves and protect each other, we have withdrawn from each other.
Although staying put is hard, when the coronavirus pandemic storm will clear, maybe will we be reluctant to resume our rushing about, and maybe something of the stillness now upon us will stay with us. Maybe will we rethink the wisdom of having much of our medicine and medical equipment made on other continents, the precarious just-in-time supply chains. Maybe will we see a new awareness of how each of us belongs to the whole and depends on it may strengthen the case for meaningful climate, social, economic and political action.
When the coronavirus pandemic storm will clear, perhaps will this be the moment that we will recognize that there is enough food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education for all and, that access to these things should not depend on what job you do and whether you earn enough money. One thing is unquestionable: the coronavirus pandemic is making the case, for those who were not already convinced, for the necessity of universal healthcare and basic substantial minimum income for everyone.
Often the most significant consequences of disasters are not immediate. We are still in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this global disaster, but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide on a better future for everyone.
It is, I would like to believe, what many of us are readily preparing to do.
Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m
Systemic Strategic Planning / Crisis & Reputation Management