I don’t want to go back to how things were before the pandemic. I want better. You should too. Don’t accept a return to what was normal as sufficient anymore. We can have more.
Alongside the illness, death, inoculation, and dread the virus caused, the virus may actually have made us better in one way.
It has reset both our expectations about the lives we can lead and about the world we can live in. Especially where we saw what choices the world and policy makers made to keep the world spinning. The pause it forced on everyone allowed us to see more clearly what our pre-lockdown days lacked and trade-offs we had made, often unwittingly, in our lives and by our policymakers and employers.
What we have gained is a sudden view that things could be different, not just on a personal level but on a national or even planetary scale, if collectively enough of us want it.
We’ve seen blue skies over cities like Jakarta and Los Angeles. We can work from home or remotely from almost anywhere. Solutions to global existential threats like pandemics (despite often bungled global and national responses) and climate change are possible given hard choices and popular will. We could divert funds to support the vulnerable during times of economic crisis, so why not a national guaranteed minimum income in less dark times that has double-blind study support and facts behind it?
I like to think we have a unique opportunity to drive beyond the mere personal level of reflection we’re seeing in the Great Resignation. Better choices we can make besides individuals simply deciding to actively do with less or pursue other life options.
There has been a distinct lack of vision from governments and policymakers in the last five decades. Governments have linked arms with companies and failed us by convincing us all we should expect from them is to keep a steady hand on the tiller of the economy. And failed to rein in company excesses where they’ve been unequivocably harmful
Rather than steering us towards a greater vision, they’ve been mere caretakers for special and corporate interest while steering us away (sometimes) from immediate rocks and reefs, without giving us a clear direction to sail towards, or steering us away from those hurricanes we can all see on the horizon. We need to demand more and expect more visionary leadership of what life should look like in the century ahead.
Don’t forget: Many companies and governments have a vested interest to direct things back to the old normal. We saw an unprecedented increase in the concentration of business and personal inequality in the last three decades with the State and companies doing little to deal with national or global issues. Often, just saying more innovative approaches were largely impossible was enough to make difficult problems seem insurmountable and have us wander off to our tvs.
Refuse to return to a pre-pandemic normal.
Focus your attention on what actually matters to you, your family, your tribes.
Make new, better choices about how you will spend your time and your life (If not this second, day, or month, then start planning how you’ll nudge yourself in that direction at the start of next year.).
To riff off Ezra Klein, think of your individual choices as now being greater than their impact on just you. Think of them as a virus for social, political, and moral contagion. The more people who show social proof of society’s desire to change, the more opportunities we will all have for transformation on the not just the individual level, but also the cultural, societal, and global level.
Define a better new normal.
Let me know what you think about the post on twitter @awws or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear feedback about your thoughts, processes, or approaches and what may have worked for you or tweaks to the above post. Opinions on why I might be wrong and what might be even better always welcome.