What I want to discuss today is what I believe is a result of COVID but it is not about COVID per say. No it is about us before during and after this pandemic.
The battle has a chance of ebbing in humanities favor so first where are many of us, and how do we feel about the current state of affairs? For many it’s like a prolonged shock treatment coming to grips with the fact governments can’t protect us from everything, We have also come to grips with the notion we are far more vulnerable than we think. There are also no instant solutions like a TV show or a guaranteed happy ending. How did we come to believe we were immune from an attack by nature?
The truth is it started years ago. We began do distance ourselves within our family units. In many cases we didn’t even know our neighbors let alone folks in the neighborhood. We lacked community involvement. We could complain loudly about a community plan change but never bothered to go hear about the change when proposals were made. We lost basic human contact with community when we needed it most. We believed we didn’t need service clubs or the volunteers to do the work.
Consequence? There was no one there to meet community needs in many places. We had to learn from scratch like grand children learning to bake their first cake. It became apparent when they had to broadcast public service announcements saying “Check on the vulnerable the shut-ins and seniors in your neighborhood” Yes our actions not only left us unprepared it left us feeling helpless in many cases. I remember hearing it said “Someone should do something.” that someone should have been us.
Why did the government have to step in and bail us out in a financial sense? Some say they shouldn’t have. I disagree for a reason. As a society, individuals, families and even businesses were vulnerable as a consequence of following herd consumerism. Money was a piece of plastic. We never lived in a crisis, before when there wasn’t a short term fix. For twenty years society deluded itself into an economic fantasy world.
Yes we needed a bail out and a serious lesson. The lesson? The government is us. We will have to pay it back in taxes and economic sacrifices. We are going to learn how fragile our vision of mortality is. and we are going to realize the lessons progress comes when we balance reality with compassion. There are a lot of people who are finding out how close they came to joining the ranks of the poor, which is a lesson in humility itself.
We thought it was more important to have a thousand facebook friends we never met than to find out how our family and neighbors were actually coping with the feelings and loneliness. No I am not painting people with the same brush it is just that in my view society as a mindset became complacent, and this pandemic may have jolted us back into reality. So what will that reality look like perhaps?
Some of the changes coming will be in the way we work and the way we shop. Even in the way we use transportation. On line shopping is already challenging the big chains and they are adapting with their own distribution systems. People will buy their food on line and find they will save money by not impulse buying. More and more people will work from home cutting the need for daily traffic volume. It will affect small retailers in high volume office districts. Walmart for example is closing at least six locations and moving some others into repositioned locations and spending five hundred million dollars on changes.
I can see small retailers being more productive and more important. Here is why. Small shops will hire knowledgeable staff who can provide customer service when buying new technology for home use. For those banking, brick and mortar institutions will scale back. Car buying is already positioning to give dealerships competition. Even a segment of post secondary education can be done from home cutting tuition costs considerably and providing more access to learning. One of the benefactors will be those trying to access low cost housing as many office buildings and closed shopping malls will be converted to housing. That is starting to happen in parts of North America.
One of the biggest changes will see light manufacturing return. Essential goods will be produced at home for domestic use. And one other aspect of society will return brought about by the pandemic. A return to citizens being involved in community and the reason is our change in habits will require more people interaction in a different venue.
We are being taught a lesson about things we already knew and ignored. If government did not provide a bailout, it would have taken years to get to where the opportunities are. Yes the idea there are positive opportunities might sound foreign but a wave of new ideas is about to land on societies shores. Don’t think so? Think of how different things are and all the inventions since WWII. From that tragedy we forged a different world and a new day is coming. The question is are we ready for change?