Time For A New World Order

“Historically, Pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it”.  -Arundhati Roy

We can all imagine a far better way to live than what we have experienced during 2020. Some have created a compelling view of what it looks like, how to build it and the promise it offers. Yet we generally resist to take action. We tip back to the status quo. Even the few with the power to bring about change are not able to break societal habits. A better, new world order seems elusive as the rallying cry is to ‘go back to the way it was’.

As we yearn for the social freedoms we once had, before worrying about a virus lurking in every face we meet, we should not forget that life back then was not fair or equal. It is a hard truth about the patriarchal system, life was great for those at the top and they tended to look similar to each other. We can debate, who is at the top, in which country do they live and we can justify that those further below, are not that much farther down the ladder. We might even be audacious enough to think that if those people work hard, they too can climb to the heights of society. But, society is fundamentally rigged to maintain the status quo, which is not equal for all people.

I think what the pandemic has shown is the power of equality. Take the examples we are seeing of nature flourishing without the intervention of people. Once we were shuttered away and stuck in place, nature began to right herself. Examples from ‘COVID-19 and Climate Change: The Unexpected Pairing‘, March 24, 2020

  • In China, the average number of “good quality air days” increased 21.5 percent in February, compared to the same period last year, according to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
  • One NBC News article said Venice’s usually murky canal waters began to get clearer, with fish visible in the water below.
  • One analysis by the Washington Post found that the most dramatic emissions drop was observed over northern Italy.

Interesting examples of what can happen if we give nature an equal footing. That is to say, humans universally have the upper hand on nature and there is no competition at all. If we are able to see with our own eyes what is possible if we give an utterly defenceless plant, clean water and air, will we draw the same conclusions as to the benefit for all humans? Can we practice that kind of empathy? Are we ready to acknowledge our place in society and lend a helping hand to those less fortunate?

Lockdowns have “given people a glimpse of how quickly things can improve if we take action,” Andersen says. Though sightings of flora and fauna thriving during mankind’s confinement may not tell the whole story, she hopes they will inspire the public to reconnect with nature and demand more environmental protections in the future. Excerpt from ‘Can nature heal itself? What the pandemic has shown us,’ October 2, 2020

While some wait and hope that humans will take action in regards to environmental protection, others are taking up the rallying cry for societal equality. Every nation is at a different place on the spectrum of inequality, but no one geography has got it right, yet. As Canadians, we like to compare and contrast ourselves to Americans. Canada being a kinder, gentler place, even a refuge of sorts. In this regard, winning the contest between two nations still means there are many people within the borders who continue to lose at the larger game of life. (The Canadian Human Rights Commission ‘Statement – Inequality amplified by COVID-19 crisis‘)

As we head into the last phase of the pandemic, the final leg towards gaining immunity through a vaccine, what will life truly be like in the aftermath? Will we reflect on what has happened and learn? Even more importantly, will we do something good with that information? Or will we continue the march of blame? Will we go on playing the zero sum game where the few rich people are reaching dizzying new heights and everyone else is ranked against them at ever low depths? Is this the best we can do?

The way I see it is, we all have a creative role to play. True equality will not be gained by the wealthiest giving up money to spread out amongst the rest in one grand gesture. That is a bandaid solution at best and at its worst, let’s wealthy people off the hook. Rather, it is the nature of the economic, educational, health, and governmental social systems which must be restructured. To me, this is the patriarchy and that system must change. The people who have the most in society must account for their privilege and then attend to changing the system that provided those benefits so that others may be given that same opportunity, equally. It’s easy and incredibly difficult at the same time.

I suppose the first test of whether we truly can walk-the-walk of equality will be the rollout of the vaccine worldwide. If we hoard it within the borders of wealthy countries and effectively make those citizens even more privileged than they already are on the global scale of equality, then we will have our answer. On the other hand, if this is truly an unprecedented situation, then maybe we will rise to the occasion with an act of generosity across borders that has never been seen before. I am hopeful for the latter.

Below are some thoughts about the patriarchy as it is and has been for a very long time. A few people trying to make change is not enough to provide a lasting benefit. As we all participate in the status quo, we all need to rise up and create a better future.

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