Thank you, Coronavirus

Seeing people get infected with the new coronavirus or COVID-19 all over the world is not the best premise for looking at the big picture. But I still couldn’t help noticing a couple of things that seem to be happening in parallel to the mayhem.

First, nature is recovering. Pollution is dropping everywhere because economic activities have ground to a halt and people are stuck at home. Whether it is fish in Venice or blue water in Manila Bay, the signs are clear: just a few weeks were enough to produce impressive results in the natural world. And these are just the first and most obvious results.

Second, we learn which services are truly essential. The narrative has, for a long time been, that the more value you add to the economy, the more money you earn. But except for a few exceptions, many of the people that are keeping the world running today are part of the lowest-paid segments of the workforce.

Third, the pandemic shows in impressive fashion how important resilient, affordable and available healthcare is. The main thing it highlights is the failure of private healthcare systems. There is probably a bigger argument to be made here, but the fact of the matter is that the main goal of private businesses always is, always must be, profit. Perhaps it is not a great idea, then, to privatize an industry that should prioritize care over profit.

Fourth, a universal basic income or UBI safeguards the economy. Drawing a definitive conclusion about this now is probably premature. But what we seem to be seeing now is that a UBI makes sure the economy will not grind to a halt, even in the face of unprecedented disaster – and is much cheaper than the fallout of the alternative.

Fifth, we can do so much better. As the world scrambles to handle COVID-19, all the missed opportunities of the past are coming back to haunt us. The data, the warnings, the capacities were there to be ready for this. But we chose not to be.

As I’m writing this, the Pope pointed out that we went ahead “at breakneck speed”, ignoring the wars, injustices, and cries of the poor and our ailing planet. It may seem a bit dramatic (he is the Pope, after all), but as we examine the priorities of many societies around the world, perhaps the best thing this pandemic can do for us is to help us reconsider who we are and how we want things to be – both as individuals and as a collective.

So, for these new perspectives, thank you, coronavirus.

15 thoughts on “Thank you, Coronavirus

    1. Thank you. The days are slowly getting better. We are in The Philippines currently, and are canceling our return to Bali in May because of this outbreak. The community quarantine here lasts another two weeks but nobody knows what happens after. Will it be extended? Just in the capital? Who knows at this point.

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      1. I have a feeling some countries won’t be hit as hard as others. We live just next door to the US. And I expect the number of cases in Mexico to increase sharply. I hope I’m wrong.
        Stay safe.

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        1. We were talking about this the other day. With the way the US are handling things, it is possible that the virus will burn through their population. At worst, this may lead to more cases in Canada and towards South America. Heaven forbid. The poorer countries will not be able to handle it. These are scary thoughts that we hope will not materialize. How are things in Mexico for now?

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          1. Just like you say: the poorer countries won’t be able to handle it. There’s no money left in public coffers here. Shortage of medical supplies. Not enough beds or ventilators by far… People are losing their jobs because the businesses are closing. Dire straits.

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  1. it’s great to read something positive in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. as you know, nature can only take so much abuse. this pandemic is its way of healing itself and correcting the damage that we’ve done.

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    1. Yes, once could only hope we make the proper adjustments as a society to ensure that this does not happen again. Nature recovers so fast. And it is sad to think we destroy it faster than that. Thank you for the visit.

      Liked by 1 person

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