After the pandemic – what should we do differently?
If there is ’a’ fundamental statement in crisis counselling then it must be something like:
“After crisis nothing will be the same.”
And indeed, it is a serious one – for this pandemic has turned many people’s life upside down and will have lasting effects not only in individuals’ life but in complete sectors, professions, societal groups – almost the whole society.
And after crisis previous states-of-affairs are getting either undone (total collapse) or restructured on a level better adapting to challenge.(Of course, there are many more in-betweens, but let us focus on good outcomes for now.)
It would be rather difficult to analyse what role our so-called western, globalized, consume-capitalism based lifestyle could have played to get us here, and maybe there is no such direct effect.
However, I am inclined to believe that not only is this pandemic connected somehow to our more-than-ever globalized attitudes about our habits, lives and work, but for me it seems to be a definite message about the possible downsides of the idea ‘global is the new local’.
- it is nice to fly around the globe, even to the other side of the world, but … when did we start to believe that our holidays are no good if not spent in super-exotic places, the further the better?
- it is good to be able to work from a laptop and send your materials to an Oslo-based tabloid from a beach in Barcelona ,but … when did we start to believe that our workplace can be just anywhere we want, preferably at the sea for half a year?
- it is positive that you can move freely and work from anywhere you want, but when did we start to believe that the distance from our loved ones can be overcome by Skype?
- it is nice that our supermarkets’ shelves overflow with the abundance of goods imported from around the globe, but… when did we start to believe that it’s a disaster if avocados and lychi from China are not available?
- talking ‘bout China – it is rewarding to buy at reduced prices from international markets, but … when did we start to believe that Chinese garlic that shipped 6000 miles is better than local just because it’s cheaper?
- it is cool to be connected via the Internet and that you can attend a lecture or a webinar online, but … when did we start to believe that learning is solely about acquiring information and can do without personal, real-life experience?
Well, I don’t know the answers, and have no final solutions but what I know for sure is this:
If getting back to normal will mean getting back to the old ways, instead of finding new ways then this whole pandemic – including us coping with it – was totally pointless with regard to waking us up to doing things differently.
In the early days of lockdown many rumoured that ‘well, this sector is over… this cannot go on any more’ or ‘this and this must come to an end’,’ we can forget about it (e.g. huge festivals)’.
I would say that it is not necessarily the goal that we ‘must forget’ but the way and methods we used to apply in reaching those goals. We should not and must not abandon valid goals in our lives, society or economy but need to rethink how to approach those goals in a different way. For me, the biggest teaching of the pandemic was that current ‘best practices’ are far from being eternal and we need to keep an eye open to better-and-better practices and maybe a new paradigm – if we are about to survive as a species.