While we try to wrap our heads around the real-time and long-term consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, optimistic (maybe more like wishful) thinkers might find comfort in considering the occurrence of some unintended, yet potentially very positive culture changes once we get through this:
GLOBAL THINKING AND ACTION: National borders will become virtually irrelevant as climate change, pandemics and other global concerns require international cooperation and solutions. A global, “worldview” will become the commonsense perspective, and isolationism and populism will become anachronistic.
WORLDWIDE AUTHORITY: The presence and authority of the United Nations and World Health Organization, among other international enterprises will rise exponentially.
MILITARY REPURPOSING: In this vein, military preparedness will include responding to pandemics as a priority. Such multitasking will be a key factor in all funding and resource allocations. Internationally, enthusiasm will wane for hostilities, aggressions, warring, nation-building and other contributors to dystopian-like futures.
TRUST: Leaders and leadership during times of crisis will be measured by public trust as much as by actions. Trust will be an influential factor in political campaigns. (And, wishful thinking, voters will value conscience over consequence; see arrogance for ignorance; and promises without price tags for pandering.)
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: Mechanisms will be put in place to initiate on-demand public-private partnerships for resource sharing.
INTERGENERATIONAL RELATIONS: People of all ages will realize the value of mutual respect, along with knowledge, reliability, integrity, compassion and longevity, in times of crises. (Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases will be awarded a Nobel prize.)
REMOTE PROGRESS: Workplaces and schools will establish more flexible schedules, accommodations and remote practices.
PUBLIC RELATIONS: Private businesses and organizations will be more willing to seize opportunities to serve the public interest, knowing their contributions will be more than offset by the goodwill they will earn.
SOCIAL NETWORKS: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms will be repurposed as social connectors rather than “news” providers. Nonpartisan experts within government agencies and reputable institutional authorities will be the trustworthy sources for news and advice. And, “Just checking in” will become a common refrain among families and friends.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELLNESS: Exercise, hygiene and nutrition will improve. Vaccinations will increase. Deniers, dismissers, defiers of science and medicine will succumb to truth and reality. Flouters and flaunters of social conventions will get their comeuppance. (For better or worse, jokes about “survival of the fittest” and “social Darwinism” will flourish.)
HUMILITY: We will be humbled by our individual and collective failings in response to this crisis. We will learn from this experience and, along with the cumulative effects of other constructive, unintended consequences, do better next time.