We’ve still got a lot to learn about this virus – including finding the cure – but its presence has taught us so much already. Our lives have been upended and we’re facing new ways of living that will stain societies for generations to come. From the donning of masks to the regular sanitising of hands; actions that weren’t so important several months ago.
But underlining all the standard precautions we’ve had to take on, there are deeper, harsher truths to learn. Truths that really dig into the systems we’ve held onto for so long. Whether it’s political, sociological or economical, here are four harsh truths this COVID-19 pandemic taught us.
1. The Power Of Money
We’ve all heard that money doesn’t buy happiness. But the fact is, it does provide the means to be happy. Money doesn’t just afford necessities and experiences, it also provides financial security. In a capitalist society, we need money to feel secure. And right now, many people across the world are sinking into poverty because of ongoing lockdowns.
If left unchecked, poverty thrives under capitalism. Because, in order to make money, you have to hope someone is willing to give it to you. And not everyone is willing to spend their money. Especially now.
And no, I’m not calling for the dismantling of economic systems or the destruction of capitalism altogether, but to help shift our perspective on financial gain.
When one person holds more income than the vast majority of the world, there’s a problem. And it’s called inequity. A pure lack of fairness in an already cruel world. And that’s exactly why we need to tax the rich. We cannot keep making excuses for them. We cannot allow them to continue to get rich because we’re worried if we tax them they’ll simply take their business elsewhere. Those arguments don’t solve anything. In fact, it gives the rich more power. And the more power they have, the richer they get, and the poorer the rest of the world becomes.
Billionaires don’t get their money from thin air…
Indeed, rich people should have the right to feel rich and buy multi-million-dollar mansions and flashy cars. They made a good business, they should reap decent rewards. But they shouldn’t have the right to hoard millions of dollars. To hold onto it for the sake of building capital.
Because, as we’ve seen with the toilet paper crisis across the world, hoarding doesn’t do any good.
2. Physical & Social Distancing Is Impossible
Being touched is not a fetish for the few, it’s a universal trait all humans have. And when you’re not getting touched enough, it can become a problem.
According to Healthline, ‘skin hunger’ or ‘touch starvation’ “occurs when a person experiences little to no touch from other living things.” This can cause physical problems as well as affect your mental state. When you’re touched in the right way — whether it’s a side hug or a light brush on the arm — the body releases oxytocin. And this makes you feel good.
The fact is, we regularly need physical comfort in our lives. And not just physical, but even emotional comfort. We need to that feeling of belonging, which is something a lot of us are lacking right now.
According to many studies over the last century, humans have an innate need to belong. In fact, it’s part of Abraham Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs. And belonging is not just for friends and family, but also within groups and communities. Kendra Cherry, author and psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, says “by belonging to a group, we feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.”
And that’s a harsh truth!
If you’re not feeling 100%, remember there is always help out there.
3. The Insidiousness of Media Bubbles
Free thinking is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it affords the freedom to live, act and speak. On the other, it gives rise to misinformation.
But the ultimate problem is not that we can freely think, but that we can actively refuse to think as well. And this pandemic has brought the spotlight on it.
For too long, far too many of us have shrouded ourselves into a media bubble – in both the news we watch on TV and the people we follow on social media. And its insidiousness has paved the way for the rise of flat earth theories, COVID conspiracies and a growing feud between the left and right.
Of course, we must remember that a pandemic can’t burst someone’s media bubble. These bubbles can only be popped from the inside. And that can only start by opening our minds.
4. Don’t Wait For Life To Get Better
Life always changes, which means if you want to do something, you should do it now.
For me, I’ve been dreaming of travelling to Europe for the past three years. And I know what I had to do to get there, but I decided to focus on my writing career and bide my time. And now, with this virus on the loose, the world has closed. Travel is not on the cards for at least a year.
Of course, I cannot be the only one who has fallen into this trap thanks to COVID-19. Many of you have had dreams that have since been quashed. Dreams of fresh business ventures or desires to study new things. But my advice is you shouldn’t let a pandemic thwart your passions.
You must continue to plan for your future, even in the midst of a lockdown. Whatever your passions are, learn more about them and focus on achieving them. If you can make it work now, go for it. If you need more time, plan on it. Make it your goal and set the wheels in motion.
Because this pandemic won’t last forever. The world will eventually reopen. Stadiums will fill to the brim, families will reunite and masks will become a memory.
We will finally be part of the new normal. And when it comes, will you be ready?
Feature Image: Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash