Looking Beyond

A challenge I was given this week is to think about what comes after this pandemic. They asked me to identify three or four things I’d like to see change because of what we’ve learned.

It’s a harder question than I expected it to be. And I think it’s hard because I have so many hopes and dreams about what I’d like to change. In my opinion, America’s capitalist, market-dictated system is broken, and a lot must change to improve upon its flaws. But I’m not even sure where we should start.

Perhaps the first change that might make others easier is a shift in what kinds of work we value. I hope this pandemic has taught us that even the most menial, low-paid jobs are more important to our communities than we had realized. Honestly, how many of us realized that grocery store stockers and truck or delivery drivers would be key in a pandemic?

I also hope sheltering at home has taught us that a slower, more contemplative life is healthier. The pandemic has asked us to spend the time with people we love. And I hope we’re coming out of this with closer bonds and the realization that what really matters is the time we spend with the people we care about. The rat race isn’t fun, and it isn’t healthy. Money is a tool to use in caring for our families, but it shouldn’t be a measure of our value.

I also hope this pandemic has reminded us of the importance of artistic, creative work to the human spirit. Whether we’re using the books, TV shows, movies, and music others have created to pass the time, or we’ve tried our hand at a new (or old) artistic hobby, I hope we’re relearning that works of art feed and renew the human spirit. And I hope we’ll come out of this with a greater respect for the rights of artists and ensure that we compensate artists for their efforts.

Finally, I hope this pandemic has taught us to be more empathetic. I hope we’re learning to think of the needs of others. I hope we’re looking at how we can restructure our communities so that the needs of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors are better met.

Our selfish, fast-paced, money-driven approach to life has caused this pandemic to be worse than it could have been.

Fortunately, we’ve seen many people take extraordinary action to help one another. From sewing face masks and 3D-printing face shields to neighbors shopping for those who are immunocompromised, this pandemic has brought a lot of heartwarming stories to light.

I just hope we can keep that perspective after the danger has passed and use these lessons to build a better system. Stay safe!

(Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash)

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