Amidst all the sorrow and suffering, you may have heard:
“Mother Earth is healing.”
“Neighbours and strangers are helping each other.”
“We are celebrating professionals/people who are protecting and keeping human civilisation safe and healthy.”
Seeing and hearing so many positive things happening around the world might give you hope for a better future; it might give you a sense that a post-pandemic “silver lining” is inevitable.
But wait! Those of you who subscribe to similar stories as I have should not let our guard down and be complacent. We can be hopeful and optimistic about a brighter future, but cannot forget that only positive, meaningful actions done consistently will give us the desired outcomes*.
Before Covid-19 emerged:
- The world was already seeing a surge in authoritarian leaders/governments across the world
- Misinformation, conspiracy theories, and fake news were rampant
- The flat earth movement was growing in huge numbers and having conventions (yes, massive conventions!) in many countries
- Thousands (or possibly millions) of people were believing the “opinions” of social media personalities over thousands of scientists
- Income inequalities were widening, and social injustices were growing due to greed
- The frequency of natural and human-made disasters was escalating and contributing towards inequalities, violence, wars, etc. It has also resulted in mass migration and a growing refugee crisis
- Many organisations were exploring options to automate many human functions. The decision to automate certain aspects of a business/service is usually driven due to capital efficiency, faster service, and safety reasons (in some cases), among other reasons. However, most governments and communities were/are not having meaningful discussions and/or are planning on how to help citizens face this transition and possible mass unemployment. Most businesses and services are now accelerating their automation plans (which is useful during this time, but how will it impact employees in the aftermath of the pandemic?)
On the flipside, before Covid-19 started, we witnessed:
- A surge in citizens rising against their authoritarian governments (e.g. Arab spring)
- Survivors of abuse, sexual assaults, and harassment increasingly speaking out against the people who committed those acts (e.g. #MeToo movement)
- A growing number of movements were fighting for gender equality, climate justice, reproductive justice, destigmatising mental health issues, and many more noble causes to create a fairer society
- Sustainable businesses with a core purpose to make a positive impact both socially and environmentally (social entrepreneurship) were becoming more popular. In August 2019 at the Business Roundtable meeting, Jamie Dimon and several high-profile CEOs announced corporations have a purpose that is more than just to make money for shareholders. In the 1970’s, Milton Friedman argued that a company has no “social responsibility” to the public or society; its only responsibility is to its shareholders. In the last few decades, this was the story many corporate leaders subscribed to, so the announcement in 2019 was considered as a game changer. However, some of these corporations were directly and indirectly responsible for many of the issues people faced and are facing today (e.g. 2009 financial crisis, multiple health/food/ecosystem crises, etc.). Due to this, some are questioning the motives behind this epiphany and/or are debating whether these corporates deserve to lead this new human-centered economy.
So how will these tensions in beliefs, decisions, and actions shape our communities post-Covid-19?
It is not clear in what ways and to what extent the pandemic will impact communities, nation-states, and global dynamics; we are still only three months into this pandemic. There are many unanswered/partially answered questions about the virus. It is likely various inequalities will drastically widen in many communities. In some scenarios, people may take actions that will reverse all the healing Mother Earth had during this time and/or bring out the worst in people. Many will suffer from compassion or donor fatigue. Some governments, businesses, and people may have a change of heart while others might double down on the stories to which they’ve subscribed.
There is a lot of uncertainty because everything will depend on how governments, international organisations, businesses, and people respond to the novel coronavirus and all the amplified social calamities. Therefore, we need to be agile, work even harder now to promote our story, and transform goodwill into well-thought-out and sustained action.
If you believe in making a positive impact in the world but haven’t started yet, the time has come for you to be involved and start. Find others who have subscribed to similar stories as you and connect with them. Because there is no cavalry coming – we are the cavalry! Instead of competing or duplicating, let’s collaborate and complement to amplify the positive impact.
Together we can bring out the good in people and show the best of humanity.
(Article by Harinda Fonseka, the Founder and CEO of gudppl, a social network for volunteers, donors, charities, NGOs, businesses, associations, schools, and community groups to connect and collaborate to do good. You can contact the writer at email@example.com)
*Disclaimer: These are the stories the writer subscribes to: “I believe socially conscious, responsible citizens who are committed to building compassionate communities can improve our world. I envision humans across the globe collaborating to build fairer, inclusive societies and healthy ecosystems.”