While writing about the many benefits that have come with the pandemic, there is always the knowledge that millions around the globe will not be reading this, because they are no longer with us, and many more millions have been adversely affected, either temporarily or permanently.
So an extremely sad and dreadful backdrop, but there surely have been benefits as well – are we all ready to take advantage of this, and set our futures on a different plane to before?
From a personal perspective, both sides of my family are now communicating far more regularly than ever before. Sure, we can’t physically be with them, in my case for well over a year, we can’t cuddle them, go to a bar or restaurant together, but we do see them so much more often, courtesy of Zoom or just Group Messenger. We are seeing our grandchildren and great-grandchildren growing up, much more than we would just visiting them, thousands of miles away, maybe twice a year if we were lucky.
My great wish is that we continue this even when, or if, the pandemic subsides enough for us oldies to start travelling regularly again. If it’s affordable……..
Last Wednesday, I attended the AGM for a disabled sports charity, of which I am privileged to be a patron. For the past ten years, I have been unable to take part, as I now live some 3,000 km from where the meeting takes place. But since the pandemic, all meetings have been on Zoom, and I can contribute just as much as if I was there in person. Magic, and the odds are that when things get back to some sort of normal, these Zoom meetings will continue – think about it, with 18 of us on the committee, that’s 36 car journeys fewer each meeting!
And why bother with offices anymore? It’s been well proven that working from home is infinitely more rewarding than commuting 4 hours a day, contributing to excessively high pollution levels. Yes, we have to overcome the potentially loneliness aspect, and of course, it’s much more difficult to gossip when there’s no one around you. But guess what, you get more work done. Result!
Globally, there’s no question that the planet has benefitted from lockdowns. In my adopted country of North Cyprus, air pollution dropped by 50% in just three months with the lack of road vehicles, and lack of building on major construction sites. Back in my previous home island of Jersey, the summertime skies, that used to be littered with contrails every day, as hundreds of aircraft flew above to various parts of the world, were now clear of all that pollution at 35,000 feet.
And the silence. Oh my, the silence of lockdown. All I can hear is the birds singing, the waves crashing against the sea shore, and very little else. Paradise for some. As soon as the pandemic goes away, if it ever will, the noise of everyday existence, as we always knew it, will be back to invade and plague our lives once again.
I’ve spent some time to figure out the benefits of the little bloody thing, the Corona virus, entering our world. I was also checking out the benefits the others gained from it.
More time with family? Not in my case definitely, as I’m a freelancer already not going to work from nine to five daily. In fact, the lockdowns haven’t actually changed my work-life balance.
Becoming more digital? Probably but not to a degree it has changed my life significantly.
The only thing that comes to my mind is being more hygienic. Sure, even before the pandemic, believe it or not, I’ve been washing my hands after visiting the toilet, don’t get me wrong. But now I always wash my hands when I come home: I haven’t done it before systematically.
Now, when riding the Moscow subway – and I do it very often, each day – I use those multiple automatic spray sanitizers. Several times during my trip. I use it conspicuously, understanding that I touch various surfaces, lots of possibly dirty things during the day, and all those bacteria, not necessarily COVID- 19, might be harmful.
So being hygienic is no longer just a good habit: it is one of your survival skills. Being social animals, we now fully understand such things. In fact, I now think much more about bacteria and viruses. My awareness has grown up dramatically in this field.
This probably is the one and only benefit I’ve got out of the new reality.
P.S. by the way, I don’t trust those voices preaching ‘oh the world is not going to be the same, oh, we won’t travel, blah-blah…’ It is still the same, with minor changes such as sanitizers or vaccination. In a year from now things will come back to normality. Not new normality, but to the old ways with very minor changes.
COVID-19 is not the ‘Black death’ or even ‘Spanish flu’. It is a pretty minor thing but us, the modern humans, have become so fragile that we freak out, overreact and feel too vulnerable in situations our predecessors probably wouldn’t notice at all.
Being hygienic is no longer just a good habit, but the very skill you need for survival.
Times have changed, and people are now aware of how important it is to keep yourself clean. As social animals, the very engineering of humans is the ability to emote & connect with fellow beings. That’s not going to change, and that’s something we cannot change. But these recent times have made us all aware of how to do that more hygienically.
From shaking hands to namaste, we all have had a lifestyle change for the good. We’re going to remember to cover our mouths when we cough, to sanitize our hands after touching anything else because we know what can happen if we don’t.
The whale oil of the future
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”Francis Bacon
Humans are an odd lot, it seems the more we suffer the greater we become. World War II, the Great Patriotic War, being the perfect example; from that dark place we changed the world. Most of the accomplishments that came in the decades that followed were a direct result of that terrible fire.
This will be no different, perhaps not as dramatic… but change is coming. In general change is good, it’s the enemy of “We’ve always done but this way” and it is about to fall on us all.
We have already seen the edges, like people working from home but there is more in store, much more. Yes, the Internet is important today but it’s about to become as important as electricity. Maybe more.
Will big cities become half their size? It’s not hard to imagine. We are starting to see it already. If you work from home, why should you still live in the same place? If your job is on the Internet you can work from anywhere. Let your children grow up in a small town and play baseball in the street.
If I must pick a benefit of the Pandemic, the one I choose will be the fall of the giant oil companies. In America, perhaps a third of us will no longer drive to work. Those who do will drive electric cars in a few years. Big oil is in deep do-do.
In my country, these private, profitable, mega corporations receive serious tax payer money. Gifts. There have been countless words written examining whether the Bush family committed America to war in Kuwait because of their holdings in Chevron.
Of course there will still be large oil companies. Just as there is still coal produced in places like The UK & US long after the stuff has been relegated to also-ran status.
Just this one thing; the fall of big oil may well save more lives than were lost to the virus. The list of benefits is extensive: less pollution, reduced global warming, fewer wars, and new industries. This list could quickly become long but you get the idea.
I seem to have become a broken record; change is hard and the multi-nationals are not going down without a fight. But change is coming. The swing of history has already started and no amount of speeches by politicians touting clean coal will stop it. Black Gold is the whale oil of the future.