• Mike

Few Answers, many questions: Covid-19 Agenda

This time of pandemic has thrown up some strange contradictions.

We clear our skies and clean our rivers through behaviours which we seem unable to manage in the best of times. We demonstrate community solidarity and care for others not by connecting but by keeping our distance and isolating ourselves. We talk more to some family members and friends during this time when we cannot see them in person. A huge destructive force has spawned huge creative leaps in human problem-solving. It is strange indeed that such a very small organism can produce such massive changes in our way of life.

And beyond simple paradoxes are some mind-bending questions – many of them about the evident good and evil in human beings.

How is it that even the virus seems to discriminate against people of colour? What is it that leads some to volunteer for the most dangerous of all frontline work? What force is at work that enables a man of almost 100 to raise £18 million – and rising – for the NHS simply by walking round his garden? What leads men to seek profit by stealing personal protective equipment bound for hospitals? What makes the US president choose this time to withdraw funding to the World Health Organization?

And beyond the mysteries are endless, teasing questions.

Can it be that we some of our basic assumptions about life on planet earth are just plain wrong? Is the pandemic possibly the planet’s way of groaning, complaining about the way we have abused Mother Nature? Have we been wrong to starve local communities of funding? Have we oppressed the poor? Have we given too much power to market forces? Have we been wrong to set so much store by mobility both geographical and social? Have we been wrong to utilise multiple flights for business and leisure? Is globalization a spent force? These are very big questions. And we don’t know the answers to most of them...

It’s alarming but there’s also something refreshingly honest about saying, ‘We don’t know. We just don’t know!’ That sort of honesty is the only route to growing into some answers. There are no quick fixes here. The development of a vaccine will not solve everything. The questions will take time and public debate and a lot of wise heads to resolve. All we do know is that we must subject some of our basic assumptions about life – economic, political, social, personal – to some serious scrutiny. And we need to recognise that there will be strong forces with deep vested interests which simply want to revert as quickly as possible to business as usual.

This is not a nightmare from which we shall in time wake up. It is a multicoloured vision of the choices ahead of us about a life worth living.

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