The Covid-19 pandemic has been a global and national disaster the likes of which the world has not seen in a hundred years. Times of stress and pressure like this one reveal the cracks in the foundations of our lives. Once those cracks are revealed, you have a choice. You can look at the cracks, find out where they come from, and repair them, or you can ignore them and hope they go away. So what have we learned so far?
Accessibility is for Everyone
A huge number of people got a crash course in what it means to be denied access. People who had never been homebound suddenly had to arrange for everything from basic groceries to dry cleaning pickup and delivery. People who had never been denied access to healthcare suddenly found themselves out in the cold. Broadening access to goods and services benefits everyone.
Internet is Not Optional
The days of thinking about internet access as a luxury are over. It isn’t an unnecessary bonus. We work, shop, and socialize on the internet, and that makes it essential.
The Definition of Essential
We have also been forced to reassess our definition of essential. When offices closed up and businesses closed their doors, the world kept turning, and we were forced to confront that the truly essential workers in our society; nurses, grocery store workers, postal employees, sanitation workers, and other essential personnel, were also often the lowest paid and least-protected in terms of health insurance.
Simple Safety Precautions Work
The other thing we learned is that sometimes the simplest safety precautions were the most effective. Countries that enforced mask-wearing and social distance saw dramatic reductions in their case numbers as compared to those who didn’t. It was large groups making coordinated efforts that had the biggest effect in stopping the spread of the disease.
It may seem like catastrophes create problems, but the truth is that oftentimes catastrophes only reveal problems that have long existed. When the temperature drops, it becomes impossible to ignore the fact that the heating is broken, but that doesn’t mean the heating wasn’t already broken in the middle of summer. In fact, in a sense, these catastrophes are a kind of boon. By revealing the cracks that exist, we are given an opportunity. We can ignore them, at our peril. We can patch them, at the risk that they will reappear, or we can root out the cause of these cracks, fix that problem, and know that we’ve made our foundations just that little bit more solid.