02 May COVID-19: Is There Some Good to Come Out of This?
We’ve lived through some tough times. Many of us remember the way the Vietnam War, and Watergate tore our country apart. The 2008 recession eliminated many small businesses, and it took a few years for the rest of us to get back on our feet and begin to prosper. And now we find ourselves completely kneecapped by COVID-19. Within just weeks, our lives have radically changed, and we face another long month of sheltering in place. But we find ourselves asking if there is some good to come out of this.
A global phenomenon, we have no idea when this will end
COVID-19 is a virus, and scientists tell us that it’s mutating, which will make it more difficult to develop a treatment or vaccine. Yet we’re tired of being cooped up. We want haircuts and spa days. We’re annoyed that we have to cancel our vacation plans. How selfish we are. The burden of this will fall disproportionately and tragically on the old, the weak and the poor in ways that are too awful to contemplate.
But take heart; some good things may come from this pandemic
1. Innovation: That fundamentally American ethic
Business owners who want to remain successful have had to be nimble. I know one small business owner who closed one office, furloughed part of his team and began offering his services virtually. All within one week. He is now planning to expand what is now his new, leaner business model.
2. There can be no doubt that we are part of a global community
Oblivious to borders, there’s no passport control for this guy. The only way of stopping the virus’ spread would be to shut borders completely. No coming in or going out. Cooperation among nations is essential to combating the epidemic. Sharing knowledge and tools is critical because this airborne disease roams the globe.
3. Getting to know your family and your neighborhood
As we’re all locked up in our local quarantines, we might get better acquainted with our neighbors and our families. We might be more present to the people around us, the people we love. Families with extra time together may go back to enjoying just being together, doing simple things—card games and board games, playing catch, cooking, going for walks or bike rides.
4. It may make future epidemics less likely
If we’re smart, we can take the lessons from this pandemic and learn from them. Public health needs to become a specialty, and our public officials need to be paying attention to the first signs of trouble and begin preparing. We lost precious time and we’re paying the price in lost lives and a plummeting economy. Much has been learned about the containment and mitigation of infectious disease. Vaccines against future viral challenges are likely to be developed faster as a result.
5. The miracles of modern medicine have let us down
No popping a pill for this one. There is no cure. This is going to be harder than what we’re used to, and it’s going to be around for a while. COVID promises to change the way we travel, work and recreate. Recognizing our own vulnerability might slap us around and make us humbler.
6. Our environment may benefit
- India’s 1.3 billion people have created one the world’s worst smog problems. The Himalayan mountain range is now isvisible from a distance for the first time in years. People now can see the stars. All of this proves that better air quality can be achieved.
- China’s emissions have been reduced by 25%; coal use cut by 40% and good air quality days are up by 11%.
- Without traffic and air travel, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen dramatically. Pollution in New York has reduced by nearly 50% because of measures to contain the virus.
A global pandemic claiming people’s lives shouldn’t be seen as a way of bringing about environmental and social change, but we may be able to take some of these bitter lessons and apply them to other parts of our lives. At the very least, we can hope that our government officials are learning that we need our allies, our global relationships. We are, indeed, in this together.
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