We are living in a time of dramatic change. The challenge for us is to embrace it and come out the better for it.
Throughout history the world has forced humans to adapt. Migration patterns were largely based on weather—think of the Vikings moving South, and resources—the Roman empire expanding into Africa to feed it’s armies. Deliberate expeditions to conquer unknown territories and exploit resources revealed the greed of mankind. And wars over territory have always plagued and reshaped the human family. Pandemics have swept through our world before. But this one is different, mostly because we have the infrastructure and the modern medicine to fight back.
Of greater risk is our planet itself. The silent pandemic that has been spreading for decades is the misuse of our resources. The spread of COVID-19 is a wake-up call to the damage we have done. Areas of China that shut down completely because of COVID-19 saw a dramatic decrease in air pollution. The water in the canals in Venice became clear enough to see fish again.
This alone should be enough for us to rethink the way we are living. Yes the climate is changing. But more immediate is the pollution that is choking our air and water. This is the first thing we should learn from the pandemic: how much impact we have on the very place where we live.
Secondly: Families, friends and neighborhoods are growing closer, helping each other, cooperating and performing unselfish acts of service. Sure there are those who panicked and hoarded and profiteered. But there are so many more who grew closer to the ones they love.This is a lesson that we should not lose when the cloud has passed.
The deaths and the illness are tragic. But hundreds of thousands of people die as a result of other illnesses, many of them brought on by the lifestyles they have chosen. Now is the time to focus on solutions to more than the pandemic. How can we clean up our air and water? How can we stay closer to those we love? How can we make healthier choices both physically and mentally? How can we provide others with opportunities to provide for their families? How can we create technology that brings us together rather than isolate and divide?
This is a time to rethink our personal responsibility. Sometimes it takes a good pandemic to change the way we view ourselves.
Let us join together and make the changes our world needs.