This is one heck of a unique year for most of us. While the Spanish flu may have created similar circumstances about a hundred years ago, most of us were not around then, so it’s safe to we’ve never experienced anything quite like the current world situation.
I’ve seen posts on FB (rolling my eyes) about people wanting to ‘delete’ the year 2020 from their lives because they had to cancel their travel plans or couldn’t have their daily barista coffee fix and the like (doubly rolling my eyes) – sorry to anyone who has had to cancel travel plans, but there are worse things happening; like people and families losing their jobs and income, getting stranded in foreign countries with no way of getting home with no money, no nothing, etc; so, a little perspective, please.
In spite of all the mess, I feel the happenings of 2020 and the health crisis has brought some harsh realities to the forefront.
- Inequality – Racial inequality is something huge and something very real that many people have to deal with. It’s sometimes ingrained so deeply into our lives we don’t even realize that not everyone has to jump through the hoops we have to or not everyone has a free and easy shot at life as we do. But I think, I hope, the horror of what happened in Minneapolis and the aftermath has made it very clear to everyone that a huge change is needed – not just in law and governance but in attitude and thinking as well.
Another type of inequality that comes to mind is the inequality in infrastructure. This became painfully apparent when so many children had to struggle or completely forego keeping up with their school work during lockdown periods, due to not having proper internet connectivity at home. What did this mean for them? How far did they fall behind in their studies? Will they have to repeat their course work for the year? What does that mean in the long run?
- Under appreciation – by this I mean the number of years the world has managed to under-appreciate our front line workers. Doctors, nurses, farmers, janitors, etc. I know a few years ago Doctors and Nurses all over NZ went on strike asking for better pay and facilities as they were run off their feet with understaffing and heavy workloads. Farmers? Janitors? Pfft, who’s that right? So the harsh reality is – capitalism can only take you so far if you are hungry or sick or your environment is unclean and you can’t take care of the basics yourself.
- The state of our relationships – with our families and even ourselves. Being forced into lockdown, unable to go anywhere, or meet up with friends, we were forced to spend time with our families – maybe for the first time in a long time. We learned to slow things down. To make life a little easier and spend time with the people we claim to mean the world to us (or so say our social media posts). We got to know our partners anew, found out more about our children and what they were up to, how they thought and saw things, etc. We learned to spend time with ourselves, we found out that we can learn new things from the comfort of our homes. Most of us were cooking and baking up a storm.
- How we work – Many people and companies realized that they can actually do their work without battling traffic on a daily basis and being stuck in an office. You can actually do your work from home and be more productive. Would this realization mean the new normal would have better work flexibility for more workers, with the ability to work from home whenever needed? Would these changes mean people would have a better work/life balance going forward?
- Consumerism – we all realized that we actually don’t need a lot of “stuff” to live and live happily. So all that expensive junk we spend our hard-earned money on? Don’t need it!
- The Gym – haha, here’s my personal favorite. Lots of people realized that they don’t actually need a gym membership to keep fit and healthy. There are lots and lots and lots of great stuff online that you can just follow along at home, or go outside for a walk or a run. Plus no membership means more savings, ka-ching!! How many gyms saw a reduction in members after the lockdown I wonder? (I canceled mine).
- Stay local, buy local –unable to travel abroad this year, lots more people are traveling within their borders and discovering places in their own back yard that they have never had time to see before; and supporting local economies as well. While it’s wonderful that people want to see the world and experience life and cultures different to their own; and realize that there is no need to be afraid of ‘different’; it’s also great to support your own local businesses and economy and see what beauteous surrounds are available within driving distance.
I feel, despite the horrors and tragedies the world is battling because of this terrible disease, the world also got a chance to catch its breath and re-evaluate; to find out what really matters at the end of the day. Life was getting too fast and too big for most to handle. So quite frankly I’m excited about how we are going to emerge from this (at some point). What’s going to be our new normal? Whatever it is, I hope it’s a life of quality rather than quantity, a life abundant in kindness, patience, and love rather than materialism, and a world that’s a lot more appreciative of our basic service providers!