The world has gone too far, can’t turn back

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 12:00 |
India Medley, Chief Nurse Officer at Howard University Hospital, receives the Covid-19 vaccine at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. Photo/AFP

The 20th Century has witnessed a couple of similar defining moments. One was the 1918 Spanish flu that lasted up to April 1920, infecting 500 million people and leading to about 50 million deaths.

The second are the two world wars, the first from 1914 to 1918 and the second from 1939 to 1945.

Putting a stop to the human tragedies took a global effort, with certain countries emerging much stronger than others.

But the current pandemic is slightly different as it has taught us that there are no chosen few anymore.

Covid-19 has thrown humanity into deep waters where we must rethink new ways of staying afloat. 

We have not even seen the peak of the pandemic yet. In the Western countries, for instance, doomsday scenarios are still playing out notwithstanding the fact that the rollout of vaccines has started in many places. Lockdowns are back in earnest as infections spiral out of control.

Okay, it is going to be a new normal where the process will be as important as the end result.

It is the time to undertake an audit of the socio-economic and environment impact of lifestyles and means of production.

Some values that people hold dear will be turned on their heads as they become liabilities rather than assets.

For instance, liberal Democracy will continue to be severely tested as the US falls on its own sword.

The unbridled civil liberties enjoyed by the superpower and other Western democracies have actually backfired as citizens resisted government measures to contain the pandemic.

This is the irony of how the West, which comprises much of the developed world, has been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Governments in these countries will start looking at ways of reducing the self-destructive excessive individual freedoms for the survival of their societies.

While the free ballot will not be affected, governments will seek ways of ultimately making their citizens more accountable and responsible for their actions.

Individual initiatives will be aimed at contributing to the common good rather than self-exaltation.

Health will now be one of the top goals at both national and global levels. We have realised that good health is invaluable in all human endeavor.

According to the World Health Organisation, global health expenditure was about 10 percent in 2017.

As one of the key components in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, the pandemic has made universal quality health an urgent factor in any plans.

On matters of faith, churches, synagogues, and temples have shifted to offering online worship services due to containment measures against group meetings.

Even in places where some of these regulations have been eased, many congregants are taking individual precautions, and opting to wait longer for the time when coronavirus will be subdued. 

With Covid-19, a new creed might just be evolving from the ashes of traditional religions.

Ironically, it has taken the pandemic for adherents of various religions to undertake serious soul searching about their faith, vis-à-vis reality.

It is also time for the human race to go virtual, unless in unavoidable circumstances.

With the curtailment of physical travel across regions and boundaries, people are seeking ingenious ways of communicating for various purposes.

We are entering the age of virtual reality and artificial intelligence where there will be a thin line between reality and fiction.  

Even as they keep each to their lane, 2021 is likely to see a rapprochement between the US and China.

An escalation of tensions between the two largest economies in the world does not augur well for global peace and stability. 

Future survival will depend on both adaptability and acceptability of the new ways of life wrought by Covid-19.

What is for sure is that society will be reordered, for better or for worse depending on one’s circumstances.  — The writer is an international affairs columnist

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