A reflection in the pandemic

This seems to be a growing theme with me in recent months. The conflict between wanting things to go back to the comfort of a non pandemic life, and the inevitable approach of change.

I’ve written a lot about the changes that we are all going through. The pandemic has revealed many things about our society. Some good and some definitely bad. The precarious nature of our employment for starters. How millions were instantly laid off and threw our economy into chaos. Our support systems are too weak to handle this stress. In fact a lot of our social systems are proving to be too weak to handle this pandemic.

In light of a crisis of this magnitude, change is inevitable. New systems and new social constructs are required to survive. It seems that is what we are currently doing. In my podcast this week, we talked with Jason Cassis. He’s an restauranteur and currently undergoing a massive exercise in rebuilding. As are all in the hospitality industry. There was something that he said that really stuck out to me:

“Never waste a crisis, and this is a good one not to waste”

I know he’s referencing his industry, however I think it’s something that can be put to use elsewhere. The precarious nature of people’s employment, racial inequity, and inequality have been at the forefront of people’s minds lately. Our news coverage is focused on where we are coming up short. The gaps that exist in what we think our world should look like, and how it actually is.

What if we use this pandemic as an opportunity for positive change? Instead of wanting to go back, we find a new better way forward? Social infrastructure is needed to be rethought of as a necessity. As this pandemic continues, we are faced with the prospect of lockdowns and reopenings for the foreseeable future. The economy is not prepared to handle that. Government will be needed to step in to fill the gaps as needed. Which will of course require new financing models.

Private enterprise is already trying to figure out a path forward. Professional jobs are foregoing the traditional office setting and moving into the home office. Productivity has not suffered and it truly appears that this will be the standard for many years to come. Minimum wage workers, and service oriented jobs are in jeopardy. As long as a government funded option to remain safe at home is on the table these jobs will need to seriously rethink their models. I am willing to bet that over time, automation will be a more profitable option for these forms of businesses.

Drastic and fundamental change is happening. It is inevitable. Right now we are at a crossroads. Those who are fearful of what might be and seek the comfort of the past, and those who wish to embrace the possibilities of the future. The former’s fears are completely founded and understandable. Change on this scale is terrifying and uncertain. And yet, it is here. We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it. The pandemic is one global history altering event. More and more it appears there will be an era prior and era after. We need to use this moment to craft a better future.

This is the moment so many generations before us have waited for. Let’s not waste it.

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