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5 things the pandemic changed we shouldn’t change back

5 things the pandemic changed we shouldn’t change back

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Let’s not kid ourselves – 2020 has been rough. Maybe it’s wrong to look for a silver lining in all this, but maybe it’s essential.

Let’s not kid ourselves – 2020 has been rough. Maybe it’s wrong to look for a silver lining in all this, but maybe it’s essential.

5 things the pandemic changed we shouldn’t change back
Let’s not kid ourselves – 2020 has been rough. The worst pandemic in a century, and maybe the sharpest global economic contraction in just as long. People are frightened, some have lost loved ones and some have lost their jobs. We’re all in desperate need of a hug, and it’s the one thing we should not give each other.

Maybe it’s wrong to look for a silver lining in all this, but maybe it’s essential. We can’t survive without hope, and a tragedy on this scale is even more tragic if we don’t learn from it. Like WWII led to the expansion of international human rights and the European welfare state, this pandemic could lead to positive change. An increase in countries with universal healthcare and universal income grants? A green revolution maybe? Time will tell, but already things have changed that I wouldn’t want to change back:

Generosity

There has been an outpouring of generosity like I have never seen before. From the 8 pm cheering for doctors and nurses one has seen around the world, to international and local feeding schemes, donations, and online fundraising events to the small acts of kindness between neighbors, like sewing masks or dropping off groceries. I have a neighbor who leaves me a piece of cake in a Tupperware on the front step once a week. We’re supporting each other, chipping in, and looking beyond our own narrow lives and I hope it never ends.

Letting go of being busy

Our culture idolizes being busy. We measure our worth by our productivity – how much we can get done in a day, both for work (maximize efficiency) and our social lives (live your best life). It’s exhausting. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and accept quiet time. In my experience, people have been understanding if a task takes me longer than it usually would, because we all know how much emotional strain we’re under. How about we keep the patience and the kindness, even after the emotional strain eases up.

Clean air

We’ve all rolled our eyes at some of the more outlandish #natureishealing posts - the dolphins in Venice, the elephants in China - but the truth is the pandemic has massively reduced carbon emissions and air pollution. In the northern Indian city of Jalandhar, residents can see the distant Himalayas for the first time in a generation. Knowing what’s possible can inspire us to make the change permanent. Since March of 2020, the United States has seen a 25% decrease in nitrous oxide - proof we need to leave our reliance on fossil fuels in the pre-pandemic past.

Less travel

Tens of thousands of flights normally travel across the globe every day – did we really need them? Air travel is terrible for the planet and makes a huge difference to our carbon footprint. Likewise, we spent our lives sitting in gridlocked traffic, belting out exhaust fumes as we rushed to offices and meetings. Now, it turns out, many of the meetings we thought had to be face-to-face have been just fine over Zoom. People also now find time to appreciate exploring local areas and attractions. I’m hoping we’ll approach travel, when it returns, with a bit more thought and, in the case of leisure travel, appreciation: Less as a consumer good, status symbol and social media brag zone, and more as a special, rare and enriching experience.

Staying in touch

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot more time catching up with my family these days than I ever did before. The WhatsApp group is busier, we all make time to have a drink together every week, even though we’re scattered in different cities. I speak to old friends more than I used to. The pandemic has made me truly appreciate the people in my life – and how short life can be – and I hope I carry this newfound gratitude into whatever kind of life the post-COVID world has in store.

Let’s not kid ourselves – 2020 has been rough. The worst pandemic in a century, and maybe the sharpest global economic contraction in just as long. People are frightened, some have lost loved ones and some have lost their jobs. We’re all in desperate need of a hug, and it’s the one thing we should not give each other.

Maybe it’s wrong to look for a silver lining in all this, but maybe it’s essential. We can’t survive without hope, and a tragedy on this scale is even more tragic if we don’t learn from it. Like WWII led to the expansion of international human rights and the European welfare state, this pandemic could lead to positive change. An increase in countries with universal healthcare and universal income grants? A green revolution maybe? Time will tell, but already things have changed that I wouldn’t want to change back:

Generosity

There has been an outpouring of generosity like I have never seen before. From the 8 pm cheering for doctors and nurses one has seen around the world, to international and local feeding schemes, donations, and online fundraising events to the small acts of kindness between neighbors, like sewing masks or dropping off groceries. I have a neighbor who leaves me a piece of cake in a Tupperware on the front step once a week. We’re supporting each other, chipping in, and looking beyond our own narrow lives and I hope it never ends.

Letting go of being busy

Our culture idolizes being busy. We measure our worth by our productivity – how much we can get done in a day, both for work (maximize efficiency) and our social lives (live your best life). It’s exhausting. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and accept quiet time. In my experience, people have been understanding if a task takes me longer than it usually would, because we all know how much emotional strain we’re under. How about we keep the patience and the kindness, even after the emotional strain eases up.

Clean air

We’ve all rolled our eyes at some of the more outlandish #natureishealing posts - the dolphins in Venice, the elephants in China - but the truth is the pandemic has massively reduced carbon emissions and air pollution. In the northern Indian city of Jalandhar, residents can see the distant Himalayas for the first time in a generation. Knowing what’s possible can inspire us to make the change permanent. Since March of 2020, the United States has seen a 25% decrease in nitrous oxide - proof we need to leave our reliance on fossil fuels in the pre-pandemic past.

Less travel

Tens of thousands of flights normally travel across the globe every day – did we really need them? Air travel is terrible for the planet and makes a huge difference to our carbon footprint. Likewise, we spent our lives sitting in gridlocked traffic, belting out exhaust fumes as we rushed to offices and meetings. Now, it turns out, many of the meetings we thought had to be face-to-face have been just fine over Zoom. People also now find time to appreciate exploring local areas and attractions. I’m hoping we’ll approach travel, when it returns, with a bit more thought and, in the case of leisure travel, appreciation: Less as a consumer good, status symbol and social media brag zone, and more as a special, rare and enriching experience.

Staying in touch

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot more time catching up with my family these days than I ever did before. The WhatsApp group is busier, we all make time to have a drink together every week, even though we’re scattered in different cities. I speak to old friends more than I used to. The pandemic has made me truly appreciate the people in my life – and how short life can be – and I hope I carry this newfound gratitude into whatever kind of life the post-COVID world has in store.

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