COVID-caused opportunities

25 and 26 April 2020:

Any type of crisis may start off with something bad but always contains tremendous opportunities for good, for creating long-lasting positive change. It’s WONDERFUL!

But it is up to us to grab those chances.

It still does not mean that you have to ignore the undeniable pain of people who have lost and are losing loved ones. This is part of normal life, however. The big difference (besides lock-down) is that we now SHARE the experience all over the world, of the kind of stuff that goes on in individual lives all the time. That is not by definition a bad thing.

One of the things that the corona virus crisis enables us to do something about

One aspect of the lock-down here where I am is that people were suddenly much friendlier, the non-stop droning sound of traffic has ceased, the air is much cleaner, we are hearing birds we’d forgotten existed sing the sweetest songs again and wildlife is noticeably more relaxed.

I hear this from other countries as well.

The corona virus crisis is also highlighting weaknesses in our societies.

We should pay attention to it all, learn and apply the lessons taught by it all.

170 Dutch university researchers (from all over the world) wrote a manifesto for grabbing this chance to green our economies (and  absolve some debts). It’s a start.

The manifesto (PDF)

Text about this manifesto, at Leiden University

We have the unique chance to reset the situation we were in to some degree and start over, start up again in a different manner rather than continuing with same old same old.

  • Socioeconomic inequality and air pollution are part of this problem as much as the lack of decisive action in many countries in the west was.
    • I was a teenager in the 1970s. Most of us young people were into the environment big time back then, even though we still knew next to nothing compared with what we know now. We swore we would never get a driving licence. I got one later, at age 24, because I felt it would be good to know how to drive in an emergency. I briefly had a car when I did fieldwork in Sweden. In 2004, someone gave me an old car because she was moving to the UK. I drove it once, then gave it away. Throughout my life, most of my friends did not own a car (but that is easy, in most of the Netherlands). I haven’t had a TV or coffeemaker for most of my life. I stopped using my fridge about two years ago and to my astonishment discovered that I was nowhere near as dependent on it as I thought. I use discarded microwaves that are still working fine but came from kitchen renovations and the like. I make my own liquid handsoap.
  • Pointing the finger at other countries to deflect attention from one’s own failures is not the solution. It only means that the exact same thing, or maybe worse, could happen five years from now. The west has to get its own house in order, too.
  • It is not right for the arrogant west to keep pointing the finger at the rest of the world.
    • The 2009 minor pandemic that began in the US could have caused something similar as we are seeing right now.
    • The 2008 crisis was the result of an extreme focus on making money at the expense of everything else. It began in the US.
  • It cannot be true that we – in our so “technologically advanced” society – must depend on the cruel mass exploitation of nonhuman animals for our food supply. That’s backward, not advanced. We don’t necessarily all need to go vegan or vegetarian. We have the ability to grow our own cruelty-free meat in the lab.
  • It is not true that GDP is the only measure of how well a country is doing. It is not true that we need unlimited financial wealth and lots of electrical equipment in order to live well.
  • It is ridiculous that the only kind of housing that most people are allowed to live in or build in most countries causes harm to animals and to humans and that less harmful dwellings are not allowed.
  • The pandemic is highlighting the health disparities resulting from otherisation and the often ensuing discrimination painfully clearly. It gives us the obligation to remedy these failures of society. It’s not just skin color and racial discrimination, it’s also other kinds of inequality, such as age, income including poverty and profession, that result in health disparities.

Let’s DO this! Let’s grab this tremendous, once-in-a-century opportunity!