Imagine 2021

Thoughts, ideas, hopes, reflections and articles that could contribute to a better world post-COVID-19.

 

Let’s start with an easy one: we will be willing to invest in measures to prevent the next pandemic, as researchers have told us to do since SARS, and have warned us will always be a risk into the future.

Among the many thoughts in this article from Vox is the point that working from home via online communications platforms gives person-to-person businesses the opportunity to expand their reach beyond their usual geographic area.

This article from The Hill suggests a “Citizens Energy & Environmental Corps” as a way of killing two birds - rebuilding the economy and jobs while addressing looming environmental crises (some of which have been given just a little breathing space by shutdowns).

We have the opportunity to discover and develop our own creativity, such as, in my case, playing and writing more songs.

Karina Swami-Chavez

We may simply realise that we are not invulnerable, that we need to recognise risks that are global and invisible 

The idea of designing our biological future is a controversial one, but COVID-19 highlights the value of it.  This article  from Wired highlights the positive side of such a venture and the opportunity our increased awareness of our vulnerability presents to get together and work towards the goal of a safer, healthier and more equitable world.

Our decisive and cooperative action will be recalled at the next crisis (oh and there already is one waiting for us to finally take seriously. If you don’t know what that is, you need to crawl out from that lump of coal you’ve been living under)

May more people recognise that social isolation is hard- and the chronically ill live that way all the time. We could help if we chose to.

Celia Moriarty

Countries that already had strong safety nets will theoretically have had to make fewer budgetary sacrifices to protect the vulnerable during the crisis and thus will be in a relatively better position, helping to bolster arguments in other countries for similar safety nets

Our use of videoconferencing through the crisis may have us think twice about the need for air travel. Air travel is one of the most difficult challenges in the struggle against climate pollution.

We’ll retain our renewed respect for public health systems and our politicians will be be too afraid to try strangling them for the sake of the economic bottom line.   

More dads may get closer to their kids.

Celia Moriarty


Bernie Kee

May we recognise that nature is bigger than us and we need to respect the earth and each other.

Celia Moriarty

The realisation that we can work from home may have more people consider moving out of cities, bringing economic benefits to regional communities and the personal and social benefits that go with a simpler life.  There are indications that this is already beginning.

Recognition of the fact that globalisation may have benefits but it also may weaken us

Celia Moriarty

Work hours for the last hundred or so years have declined significantly but have levelled off over the last 15 or so years (not including the pandemic of course).  This article from Inverse shows how, post-covid, we might benefit from, and be ready for, a four-day week.

Maybe we will learn to listen to experts again. Yes, I know during this unprecedented pandemic even the experts have sometimes disagreed, but perhaps we will see that that is no excuse to throw their opinions out entirely and arrogantly trumpet our own uninformed opinions, or simply believe politicians we happen to like (who may have other motivations besides caring for their nation’s people).

Perhaps in the aftermath of the crisis and the natural desire to get back to normal, we will remember our need for community and somehow keep in mind the things we all have in common. I suspect that, at least for a while as we slowly recover, the trappings of wealth will have an unpleasant taste. Perhaps the wealthy (in that I would include anyone in the world’s top 10 - which includes me and probably you) will find new ways of gaining personal reward besides acquisitiveness. This crisis is at risk of repeating the 1918 pandemic, setting back progress towards equality by affecting the poor the worst. But this time we have greater communication and greater access to information. If we share information about the impact of the crisis on those less well-off, maybe, just maybe, we will liberate ourselves from the tyranny of  self-interest.

It seems around my neighbourhood that more people are walking, presumably because the gym or other fitness facility is closed. I don’t know about you, but I like the community flavour of walking the local streets and parks. The more chance you give yourself to observe your neighbourhood the more likely you are to care about it. And I love the idea that saying hello to a complete stranger (at current distances it may feel more like a yell) might make a difference for whatever hangs over their head at that moment. I’m hoping we keep it up after gym reopens.

Maybe we will learn to listen to experts again. Yes, I know during this unprecedented pandemic even the experts have sometimes disagreed, but perhaps we will see that that is no excuse to throw their opinions out entirely and arrogantly trumpet our own uninformed opinions, or simply believe politicians we happen to like (who may have other motivations besides caring for their nation’s people).  

Perhaps we will learn to think before succumbing to the temptation of juicy but harmful conspiracy theories.  I know it looks quite the opposite right now, but there's time for at least some of the current hysteria to be proven baseless.  You can always hope!

There are signs that search engines and social media platforms are getting smarter at filtering out bullshit. Of course there’s a long way for them to go (as this article says, “praising them for doing it is like praising Philip Morris for putting filters on cigarettes”). 

We may simply realise that we are not invulnerable, that we need to recognise risks that are global and invisible  

We may demand that governments provide meaningful health and financial safety nets. During the crisis, they have poured money into measures that decent safety nets may have at least partially made unnecessary. The trouble is they never budgeted for these measures, so ultimately and unavoidably, citizens will pay for them. It will be interesting to see if countries who came into the crisis with good safety nets will emerge relatively stronger.

Beyond safety nets of the kind we have now, perhaps we can open up conversations about new and different ways of helping people stay safe and well, and not falling through the cracks. For example, perhaps we can start a meaningful discussion about things like universal basic income or universal basic assets. I’m not advocating these measures - no-one can really say for sure if they are practical or not - but they deserve genuine examination free from pre-existing ideological bias.


If my comments about safety nets are too strong for you, at least we might acknowledge that the way we have been running the economy with our unquestioning worship of permanent growth and the pre-eminence of things like stock market indices and GNP as measures of our wellbeing is clumsy and unsustainable. Maybe we can start talking about more inclusive ways of viewing the economy (for a thought-provoking and accessible examination of this question, I recommend you have a look at Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth)

Artists and actors in some countries are understood to be an important part of society and provided with a wage between gigs. May we begin that here in Australia.

Celia Moriarty

On my daily walks I’ve noticed lots of minor repair work going on in front yards. No doubt some of us will learn that we really can fix things. Some of us will learn or relearn physical skills.

We might discover in our confinement that things sometimes remain useful longer than we thought, making us think a little before buying that new pair of shoes or throwing out that unopened but out of date food.

Maybe nurses will finally be properly recognised for their work. Surely they will be the first to be considered for pay rises when the economy allows.  Oh, and the same applies to teachers.

I may see fewer men walking out of a public toilet without having washed their hands (men can be disgusting creatures).

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