‘When we’re back to normal…’
‘When this is all over…’
‘When ordinary life returns…’
Statements of hope. Positive prospects. A return to the perfect past.
While global crisis has illuminated the privilege of our casual pre-corona existence, the ‘old life’ so heralded is a broken form of humanity, and it would be foolish to forget this amongst the excitement of loosening restrictions and steady movement toward normality.
Normal is greed. Normal is corruption. Normal is megalomania and egocentrism. Normal is exploitation. Normal is suffering. Normal is failing.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has forced humanity together at a base level. All are affected and susceptible simply by virtue of being human; and I fundamentally believe that all world crises could be solved if humanity truly understood and respected what it means to be human.
The strength of humanity
Humankind is powerful, thoughtful and intelligent; but damaged. Too often we use these gifts to tear down and destroy each other and the world around us, failing to recognise the value of our potential contribution. Humanity’s impact across history has not been exclusively negative.
Our discovery of music, dance, humour, storytelling, poetry, and art just touch the surface of the richness of life we’ve created for each other. We have seen the significance of various political and social movements in advancing change and bringing justice and equality to more and more people, demonstrating the strength we have to bring positive transformation.
But unfortunately humanity also falls behind daily in the pursuit of justice across the world; and while the outbreak of Covid-19 has revealed some of the best of human behaviour, it has also exposed the worst. The chasm between the privileged and the under-privileged has only widened as quarantining measures force private domestic life to supersede public commonalities. Perhaps this is most pervasively seen in the social division of housing. As access to a garden became so coveted, those without found themselves enclosed in a claustrophobic space with little safe access to the outdoors.
Such confinement accentuates differences between domestic situations which are usually masked by communal and public activities like school or work. While all children used to attend school each day, lockdown education became restricted to those with personal access to suitable technology and space at home for online learning. This huge division splits the experiences and opportunities of children as young as five.
My hope in this article is not to present a damning summary of all the ways in which lockdown has exposed these chasms, but rather to express hope in humanity’s ability to make change following this transformative time.
As I began this article I stated that I believed all injustice could be solved if humanity truly understood what it means to be human. Humanity has total capability to do good in the world; we are complex beings able to advance, innovate, learn and create.
To me, being human also means being made in the image of God. And in our fearful and wonderful creation we are given dignity and beauty; our value is unshakeably routed in this creation. If we all indeed understood that every single person is a living replica of a loving, kind God, then I truly believe that injustice would fall as the people come together.