We’re still in the early days of this crisis, but I already find myself looking ahead and wondering what the new “normal” will look like.
Everyone seems to be clinging to the idea that it’s only a matter of time before things return to the way they were. But I’m convinced, not only that this won’t happen, but that it shouldn’t.
Because, lets be honest…
Before the Coronavirus pandemic came to dominate every facet of our lives, things weren’t that great.
Why are we so eager to return to a world where we argue with our family and neighbours over Brexit…
A world where religion-fuelled hatred spilled over into fights, murder and even war…
A world where our right to make money and spend it how we want, took priority over a planet being systemically destroyed by pollution and deforestation.
A world where we’d become so desensitised to national and global tragedy, we just scrolled quickly through the news headlines like it was a social media feed.
We’re only a couple of months into this global pandemic and it already feels like some things will never, and can never, go back to the way they were.
And maybe that’s for the best.
In fact, if I have any fear over this current situation, it’s that the valuable lessons we’re learning about ourselves, about our families and about our society will be too soon forgotten.
Society has shaped us into believing that success is defined by our bank balance or celebrity status. That the size of our homes, the value of our cars, and the scale of our vacations are the comforts we can cling to while we try to climb to the top of a ladder that only has room for a few.
And perhaps most damaging of all, it’s convinced us that our relationships with friends, business partners, work colleagues and even family should be cushioned with restraint and mistrust, lest we expose ourselves to pain, rejection and disappointment.
This crisis has already put the lie to all of those empty philosophies.
It took only a few weeks, maybe even days, of social isolation to feel the absence of our loved ones. To miss their presence, their embrace, the tangible connection between kindred spirits that no amount of virtual chats can replicate.
And it took even less time to be awed by the sheer volume of people sacrificing their time, their energy and even their health to care for those around them.
Whether it’s the doctors, nurses and care workers remaining at their posts. The supermarket staff and delivery drivers working overtime. The volunteers helping the elderly and vulnerable to get the groceries and medication they need.
Or, in my case, seeing my colleagues embrace remote work and pull together to keep the ship running.
Everywhere we look we see beautiful examples of people doing beautiful and extraordinary things.
To the point where our former suspicions, that these kinds of people where the minority, have been replaced with a new perspective that perhaps there is more good in the populace than we could have possibly imagined.
In decades past, before most of our lifetimes, people could look up at a star-filled sky and the petty worries of the day would fade away to be replaced with questions like…
“Why are we here?”
“What does it all mean?”
“Are we alone?”
Those pauses in a busy life would create room for reflection, meditation and, yes, spirituality. Thoughts that would add context and perspective to troubled lives.
But these days, with the suffocating effects of light pollution, the magnetic lure of our smartphones, and entire generations of schoolchildren taught the atheistic dogma masquerading as science that we’re all just pointless specks of matter in an infinite universe with no purpose or hope, those questions have been drowned out.
The daily grind of life has left us too busy and cynical to take the time to think about the things that add richness and texture to our existence.
Maybe… just maybe… this current crisis will help us to reclaim some of that space for thoughts and ideas and hopes that transcend even the worst of times.
One of the greatest abilities of mankind is its ability to find beauty, art, love, compassion, and hope, in even the darkest of moments.
Why should this current crisis be any different?
It’s said that a tragedy only remains so if we don’t learn from the experience and grow as a result.
My hope in all this is that, in the midst of our anxieties, our bereavements, our financial losses, we can use this time to reset our brains.
See what really matters.
Appreciate the difference between the trivial and the true essentials of our existence.
Family. Community. Friendship. Spirituality. Self-sacrifice. Love.
We all suspect that, after this crisis ends, the world will never be the same again.
I hope and pray that we’re right.