First and foremost: the corona virus is an absolute nightmare that we all want to get rid of as soon as possible. But whilst fear, sadness and frustration prevail, it’s good – and wholesome even – to remind ourselves of the positive changes COVID-19 can create in the long run. Because if we manage to turn the crisis into an opportunity, this could be the tipping point we’ve all been waiting for. So hereby: five transitions that we can (and should!) instigate right now.
1) The right appreciation for key professions
Over the last few weeks, people from all around Europe have been applauding their healthcare workers. For minutes, the clapping, honking and chanting echoed through the streets of cities like Madrid, Paris and Amsterdam. The realisation that some professions are a lot more crucial than others, seems to have hit us like a bomb. And that whilst we’ve been systematically underpaying and undervaluing our nurses, cleaners, teachers, garbage collectors, police officers, bus drivers and GP assistants for decades. Let’s use our newly gained clarity to make sure that in the future we don’t just show these people our appreciation with applause, but most of all with good labour conditions, more trust and a fitting salary.
2) Real inclusion
We’re panic buying food, checking the news obsessively and no longer talk about anything else: our lives have officially been taken over by the C-word. The pandemic gives us a taster of what it’s like to live in a situation that you cannot control. A situation that puts you and your loved ones in harm’s way. Let’s use this crisis to put ourselves in the shoes of people who leave everything behind, not because their country is torn by a virus, but by violence. And let’s make sure that from now on, we give them the warm welcome they deserve.
3) Basic income
To not overburden our healthcare systems, an incredible number of businesses have had to shut their doors. From chefs, musicians and hairdressers to baristas and freelancers: hundreds of thousands of people have suddenly found themselves in a financially tough spot. Despite the emergency packages that some governments have launched, the current situation shows that in times of crisis, many of us are vulnerable and in need of help. Therefore, a universal basic income that covers our backs no matter what seems to become more logical by the day.
4) Solidarity and collaboration
Whilst more people are physically distancing themselves, we seem to be getting closer than ever. Young people are trying to cheer up the old and lonely, customers are determined to support their favourite restaurant through this tough time and volunteers are knocking on the doors of their local hospitals. And you know what? All these compassionate and altruistic initiatives are making us incredibly joyful and happy. An important feeling to hold onto, in times of AND after corona!
5) A restorative economy
As humanity suffers, mother Earth is healing. Due to the absence of tourists, the canals in Venice are crystal clear. In China, people can finally breath freely again. And the number of planes taking off into the sky is going down every single day. The coronavirus painfully reminds us of how destructive our ‘normal’ lifestyle is. Now that business as usual has temporarily become impossible, we’re faced with a choice: are we going to transform our economic system or… not? Now is THE time to restore the balance between people, animals and the planet and to create a society in which social and ecological compassion stand central. So let’s!
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The original version of this article was published in Dutch on MaatschapWij. You can read it here!