Coronavirus – attack or opportunity?

If someone had told us at Christmas that in only a few weeks, the world would be on its knees and that many of us would no longer be able to work and be forced to stay in our homes, we’d have ridiculed the notion as something out of a science fiction novel.

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And yet that is exactly what has happened. Covid 19 – short for “coronavirus disease of 2019” has become our enemy.

But it doesn’t have to be. As long as we stay virus-free, we have a choice about how we view the situation that the Coronavirus has created. We can see it as an attack on our way of life and our bodies, or we can see it as an opportunity to change the way we live so that, when we leave lockdown, the social norm will be different.

The Earth has given us an extraordinary opportunity to slow down and even stop but if we go back to the way things were before the pandemic, our over-consumerism and self-serving ways will destroy us. Instead, we have the opportunity to consider the bigger picture and allow this microscopic virus to give us the breathing space needed to turn things around and save the planet on which we live.

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Change often only happens with extremes and in this light, we have gone to war, not as one of a few countries but as a global community. For those who choose to view the pandemic as an attack, it’s a war of fear in which language such as ‘the front line’ and the sick fighting their way to victory is used. For the medics working night and day in horrific conditions in hospitals, it is a war of endurance. For those who are succumbing to the disease, it is a war of life and death. For those in poverty, this is a war of survival. And to most of us, it’s a war we want to end so that life can go back to normal.

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Covid-19 is a disease-driven war which affects us internally as well as externally. It is not about bombs but about an attack on our cells. It is not about weapons but about an attack on our way of life. It is not about taking hostages but about an opportunity for us to clean up from the inside out.

The climate catastrophe is on the brink of no return so, for our children’s and their children’s sake, we must do some serious thinking and Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to pause for reflection.

So here are some of the questions we could be asking ourselves:

Are we prepared to share our resources? There are some surprising statistics available. For example, I had no idea that only 6% of the world’s population has ever been on an aeroplane. Also, if we have a roof over our head and food on the table, then we are in the top 8% of the world. 26 of the world’s richest people own as much as the poorer 50% of the entire world, and the richest 1% own half of the world’s entire wealth. This degree of inequality is unsustainable and will continue leading to unimaginable suffering if we do not change.

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Next, are we prepared to alter our views about what really matters? In other words, which are we going to put first – earning money and a desperation for personal advancement, or values such as love, community, health and education?

And if we are prepared to put values ahead of wealth, then what changes do we individually and collectively need to make, to allow for these values to thrive?

We all need to learn how to love ourselves and our communities and live simpler lives without an excessive need for material possessions and this means cleaning up our act, not only the cleanliness of our hands but also the cleanliness of our minds and Covid-19 is really helping us here. Since the lockdown, air pollution in the UK has reduced by a massive 60%. Now boats are no longer polluting the Venetian canals, dolphins have reappeared. Now we can no longer shop for that temporary fix of retail therapy, we are becoming more creative and inventive and enjoying physical exercise in nature.

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For the privileged, there are some gentler opportunities as well. We are being given the time to breathe a little more slowly and deeply so that we can become healthier and enjoy life again. We can learn how to take better care of ourselves and each other with cleaner nutrition, rest and exercise and accept that a happier you means a happier me. We can put ourselves aside and learn how to enjoy having more quality time with our children and families. We can use this time to recreate our businesses and find new ways for them to operate which will help the many rather than the few. We can choose to start a new, creative project that we haven’t had time to consider before in sufficient detail. We can give thought to how people who have far less are coping. And we can volunteer our services to those in need.

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There is no doubt that, if we accept the challenge, Covid-19 is giving us the opportunity to do all of this and more. It is bringing us into the present moment because the past is obsolete and, let’s face it, we have no idea about the future. So let’s use the lockdown as an opportunity to create our future in the unknown.

In the space of a few short weeks, the Earth is already showing signs of regeneration in this time of human crisis. If we take the lockdown as an opportunity to open our minds and change ourselves for the better, then perhaps we can create a plan for the future which will enable us to step forward positively and collaboratively.

And if we take this time to think, dream and create new visions then maybe, just maybe, we can join together across all generations and all countries to find sustainable ways of living that will enable the Earth’s and our own healing to continue and create a fairer, more just, more equal and, at last an exciting future that will be in the interests of all.

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni – pixabay