Listening to and learning from the coronavirus

Ed. Note: We encourage readers to share their insights and experiences as we journey together through the current historic coronavirus outbreak.

By Mala Rajamani:

The current coronavirus strain, as it snakes across the world, is shutting down travel, commerce, schools, work, supply chains, shops, theaters, public spaces in ways that strain our utmost imagination. Pandemic in theory versus practice  is something else… akin to the million unanticipated disablements we encounter when the power does actually go out.

We are a top-notch nation, as nations go, and our preparedness leaves us gasping and helpless when caught in the tangled webs of civilized life. Hand sanitizers… who’d have thought!

Would it that we lived simpler, more self-contained lives with less dependency on the systems pushing our connected, complicated lifestyles.

Wants of times past are now needs, and so it inexorably goes.

Much of the world is going to learn what it means to live in isolation in the coming months: no traveling, no shopping, no work, no school, no restaurants, limited social engagements. To be forced to do less, consume less, put brakes on the economic engines that we propel to grow more, make more, build more.

Humanity will also be equalized in its exposure and vulnerability.

This can be a very learnable moment. The coming days and months will school us, painfully so, on losing the aspects of daily living that we’ve taken for granted.

It is also a portent of the changes we can expect from the planet’s climate crisis.

There is nothing sacrosanct to the way we now live. The current pandemic is a reminder of that. The Green New Deal is not an unrealistic vision of the future. We will need to adapt our lifestyles to using less fossil fuel, reducing our footprint in ways that shift us to a manual mode whether we like it or not.

We should start moving towards that transition. Our current changing realities are a reminder that normal can be redefined without our permission. And without our control.

We could use this moment to re-think our ways of living. Become more self-sustaining. Consume less. Reimagine. Adapt.


Mala Rajamani is a technology professional and member of Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee 



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