Community//

Coronavirus and Emergency Economy

We are living in the twilight of one era and the dawn of another.

A cyclist rides past a mural in tribute to the NHS painted by artist Rachel List on the gates of Hope & Anchor pub in Pontefract, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Pontefract, Britain, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Lee Smith
A cyclist rides past a mural in tribute to the NHS painted by artist Rachel List on the gates of Hope & Anchor pub in Pontefract, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Pontefract, Britain, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Lee Smith

At the moment, governments are trying to inject businesses and businesspeople with financial oxygen until the pandemic passes. But it won’t pass so quickly. In my estimate, we’re looking at 12-18 months before it fades away. But more importantly, when it’s over, people will have changed dramatically; they will not want to revert to the old way of life.

Graffiti in Hong Kong reads: “We can’t return to normal because our normal was the problem in the first place.” How very true. Some business will return, but a great many will not because they were redundant to begin with so resuscitating them is nothing but a waste of taxpayers’ money. Instead of wasting, governments should declare an “emergency economy” and freeze everything until the dust settles. After several months it will be easier to see what to keep and to what we should bid farewell.

So the first thing that governments need to do is make sure that everyone has food and shelter. Every family should get the same per capita, and this will alleviate the need for cash. Guaranteeing food and shelter for each person is much less costly than transferring money to people’s accounts, and guarantees that they will not waste it on unessential needs.

In the meantime, the business and finance sectors should be put on hold: All transactions, lending and paying of loans, everything and everyone should simply take a break.

The more obstinate we are recognizing the onset of the new phase in humanity, the more painfully that phase will impose itself on us. If you think of social changes like a train ride, then the train has left the dock on its way to a new station, and it will not stop until we’re there.

Alleviating the Transition

My intention in writing this article is not to intimidate anyone. On the contrary, I want the necessary transition we all have to undergo to be as smooth, quick, and pleasant as possible. Humanity has suffered enough; there’s no need to add unnecessary agony.

To help us alleviate the shift, we should supplement the provision of food and shelter with information about the process unfolding the world over. Many people already feel that nature is rejuvenating quickly since we’ve been told to stay at home. They realize that we have done too much harm and that we cannot go on this way.

Now we should extend this realization to the relationships between us. Our ill-will toward each other has cost us far more pain and ill-health than the coronavirus. Worse yet, it has made us uncaring for each other no less than we are uncaring for nature. When we rear people in a dog-eat-dog mentality, is it a wonder that this is how they also treat nature?

Therefore, the healing must begin with us. Once we learn how dependent we are on each other, we will stop treating one another like enemies. We will realize that by seeing to each other’s well being we will be seeing to our own well being, and nothing teaches us this lesson better than COVID-19.

Our compulsory slowdown is not aimless; it is for us to reflect on our lives and their meaning. Now that consumerism has been stopped by force-majeure, we have time to ask why we needed it in the first place, what we gained by it, and who gained from it. Certainly not us.

We are living in the twilight of one era and the dawn of another. It has not risen yet, but if we teach ourselves about it work shoulder to shoulder to embrace it, it will rise and shine on a new humanity: ready to welcome the new epoch with open arms that are joined together.

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