I hope some good comes out of this devastating #COVID19 situation. I know I’ve never experienced something so life-changing in my years on this planet to date. So I thought I would share my thoughts about how life must change after COVID19 if we are to minimise the risk of ever being in a similar situation again.
My parents would have been able to compare this complete global emergency with the Second World War I’m sure, but sadly they are no longer with us. While the mobilisation of our people and impact on our economy I’m sure must have been similar in terms of scale; COVID19 is very different.
It’s different because this is not a war which is dividing the planet but it’s a phenomenon which by its very nature must bring together the planet. It’s an effect which threatens our mortality and has meant we have had to identify what is important to us. It is a situation begging us to see how life must change after COVID19.
So here are my hopes about what we must focus on and pay attention to as a result of this situation we find ourselves in.
1. We are all in it together
It’s not us and them, it’s not me and you; it’s “we”. We are all in it together not just in times of crisis but in this business of life. We should no longer identify by different races. If there is any way life must change as a result of COVID19 then it is that we identify as one race. The human race. We must learn to appreciate those things which we have in common while respecting our differences. Conflict and fear arise from a lack of recognising our unity. Science has already shown we are all connected. This means our actions affect everyone, no matter how small. If we make sure our actions arise out of love then eventually that will be the reason individually and collectively decisions will be made.
2. More proportionate wealth distribution
Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. With the top 1% of our human race having access to 44% of world wealth, we have created a weak economic system. “Adults with less than $10,000 in wealth makeup 56.6 per cent of the world’s population but hold less than 2 per cent of global wealth”. As long as we measure the health of economies by profits and how rich our richest people are, then our human race is weakened. I’m not questioning the need to be enterprising – that’s a basic fundamental human drive. We need to reward enterprise but more proportionately. If enterprise reward ends up choking off the life force of swathes of people then we’ve got it wrong.
Employers and business owners must pay their workers proportionately in relation to their profit margin. Better still create employee-shareholders. After all, it is the employees who are participating in the actual delivery of wealth creation. Where an investment is needed yes reward shareholders, but in a more proportionate way.
3. A basic living income for all
An economy that enables everyone to be beyond the harrowing state of struggling to survive must be one of the ways life must change after COVID19. We need to work towards making sure every human being has enough to live on no matter what their circumstances. This will mean if and when a crisis hits then we are stronger together. The fear is, of course, people will not be incentivised to work. But if we care about our people more and they are not having to worry about where the next penny comes from then the human drive for service and contribution have a greater chance of shining through. Those that do not reach or strive beyond a basic income way of life for whatever reason will have that choice. But for most of us, we will continue to strive for greater things.
4. Put our money where our mouth is for health care
Our health care systems should not be either a political football or a profit-making machine. The health service should be a basic human right. It should be there to help people proactively embrace wellbeing principles and to provide first-class health care for those that need it. We’ve all seen health care systems where human beings have no access to it because they have no insurance for whatever reason. This is one of the areas where every human who can contribute must do so for the good of the whole human race.
This is not an easy task, but it is an ask every country should be striving towards. No-one should have to suffer or die unnecessarily. When we think “we and not me”, looking after our sick and vulnerable in society becomes personal.
5. Pay our key workers proportionately
I felt truly emotional when the UK came to a standstill on Thursday 26th March and paid tribute to our NHS professionals and workers. The tribute was also for carers and other key workers including those in the food supply chain and other services we need to keep our society going. There has been no other situation which has shone a light on who should be our priority as a nation now and in the future. Moving forward we must mirror our emotional value in these key workers with a suitable reward.
The acid test when looking at reward systems should be to ask ourselves. “If we did not have these people doing their jobs, would it affect our very survival?” If the answer is yes, we must reward them accordingly and make sure we have training and pipelines to make sure we have enough people to meet our needs, even in times of crisis.
6. Not for profit for products and services for our basic living needs
I pay for my water supply monthly. Every day I am grateful for the abundant supply of life-giving water. Not only do I need water to live, but it also means I can live a clean and germ-free life. My water company is owned by a company who is based in another country. Profits from the water I drink go to shareholders in that company. Of course, the argument is shareholders provide vital funds to invest in better services and that is true, although it is an investment which is made with an expectation on a return on investment.
Others should not be profiting from our basic needs. These include most utilities, water, gas and electricity, but could equally include transport for example where people need public transport to get to work. For products and services upon which our survival does not depend, bring on the profit and enterprise, market forces, quite rightly should dictate.
7. View and treat meat production differently
I am not a vegetarian, although I do try to consciously make decisions about the way the meat I eat has been produced. COVID19 is widely thought to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded illegally. It truly is a harrowing scenario. If any of you have seen the pictures of how animals are kept in cages piled on top of each other where bodily fluids seep down on to each other, you would see immediately it is a disaster waiting to happen.
There has been a lot of pointing fingers and blaming the people of China. But seriously where we mistreat animals and cage them for mass production then we are equally as culpable. I believe eventually, meat consumption will reduce over the coming years and where meat-eaters source their products will have rigorous rules to make sure animals are humanly treated.
8. Take more action to avert climate change
Until now, apart from World Wars which are man-made, we’ve never experienced a global natural disaster. Warnings about climate change largely fall on deaf ears. We say it’s a priority but collectively our actions tell a different story. COVID19 is a taste of things to come unless we get our act together. Already the human and economic cost of this pandemic is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Almost every person on the planet has now experienced how limiting life can be, how sad mass loss of human life is, and how easily our economic foundations can be shaken. We have had a taste of what the repercussions of climate change could entail if we don’t act with urgency.
9. View each other with greater compassion
Many of the decisions we make are through ego thinking, fear, scarcity, defensiveness for example. Wars and conflicts abound. Religions are vilified and differences are turned into bitter judgements on one another. When we live as “we not me”, then we realise in many cases “oh by the grace of God go I”. In other words, we can never judge another’s choices or decisions unless we have truly walked in their shoes. Evil does exist, and it is no mistake the word evil is the exact opposite of “live”. Evil exists where love is absent. We should always be vigilant against evil, but we will hopefully become more compassionate. This does not mean complacency, but it should mean a call to action to eliminate the lack of love in the world.
During this crisis, many people who have never suffered financial hardship will now do so and will need to contemplate living in poverty, as some people necessarily live all the time. There has been a period of vilifying vulnerable people who depend on benefits for whatever reason, and hopefully, one of the ways life must change after COVID19 is to greater compassion for all society.
10. Grow a service mentality
Over 750,000 people have volunteered to help the NHS with a number of services, like collecting and delivering medicines, and medical supplies. Some will simply call and talk to people who are on their own and cannot leave the house. This is without the human acts of kindness taking place in almost every street and community across the UK. Never have we experienced a time when we are “all in it together” such as now.
Every time I go for my essential supermarket shop I see the assistants and till operators as people who are serving others. Brave NHS workers put themselves in dangers way to try to save as many lives as possible. A service is an act of love. Whether providing an essential service, or a service which otherwise makes life good for others, if it is done with love and a service mentality, then it is all the better. Intrinsically as humans, we like our lives to mean something, we like to be making a contribution, in essence, we are happier when we practice service to others.
So there you have my top 10 wishes for ways life must change after COVID19. What do you think needs to change as a result of this crisis? Here is a useful resource entitled Surviving the Coronavirus Lockdown and Social Isolation which is a great collaboration from authors across the globe.