Change is the one constant in life. From the time we are born to the day we die, the one thing that is certain is change and its sibling uncertainty. Change and time are synonyms. As long as we dwell in time and space, there will be change from one moment to the next. And whether change is for the better or worse is a subjective assertion. All is relative, the philosopher states.
Organisations and societies that fear change soon find out that change will visit whether wanted or not. Those who are aware of how quickly things can change and adjust their sails to the prevailing winds for their own perceived benefit survive to fight another day. Those who bury the proverbial head in the sand are soon left behind — or worse, devoured by more visionary and resourceful adversaries and operators. The term is “survival of the fittest” — an idea offered by one Charles Darwin.
This time of Covid-19 is one of those times of change. The pandemic is driving social and economic change on a grand scale practically everywhere.
However, before the onset of the pandemic, change was already being driven by digitisation, global warming, and the rise of China and the East. Globalisation, which is the sum total of the preceding, is the child of technology, digitisation and economic liberalisation. Globalisation is a metaphor for massive technological, economic and social change. Today, Covid-19 and its impact on our lives is giving many sleepless nights.
How long will it be before life returns to the pre-Covid days? Will learning ever be the same, with the classroom and lecture hall as key features of learning? Is remote and home working the new norm? How long before travel returns to the pre-2020 model? Will there be an end to the pandemic? If so, when?
How will learning adjust to the present uncertainties? How will educators effect new policies in a learning culture that is being dramatically impacted daily by the pandemic?
What about the related areas of culture, youth affairs, sports, recreation and leisure? How will pandemic protocols impact the physical development of children and youth? In fact, this may be a time to completely rethink recreation and sports to combat sedentary behaviours in kids that could lead to greater obesity and chronic disease in the future.
Policymakers in education must start right now to think again, and to look at new models of learning, to allow for a bold new world of online and home schooling. The classroom may well become more of a support architecture to learning than the key infrastructure, as learning moves online and into the home. Seeking alternatives to traditional learning and youth development will be a wise path to tread.
Then, how is the medical infrastructure adjusting to the pandemic? Is there a rebalancing away from non-pandemic resourcing to placing resources into fighting the pandemic? If so, what is the opportunity cost? How is that impacting non-pandemic areas of medicine? Is too much being taken away from the regular war against chronic disease to do battle against Covid-19?
And what about the new work cultures of remote working and home working? How do employers and employees adjust to a new work ethic where a lot of time will be spent working from home? How do employers appraise workers they cannot monitor daily? It may be that personal accountability through new administrative protocols is the answer to the preceding dilemma.
Will there be new policies for enabling the general public carry out daily life safely? What should be prioritised in terms of policy making as health spending takes up a greater portion of public spending.
How will businesses redesign office, shop floor and industrial space in the new age of Covid? Will airports and seaports permanently install pandemic and vaccination monitoring desks? How will travel be impacted long term by Covid protocols? Will travel protocols ease or intensify? How will the preceding affect the wider economy?
On the global front, the pandemic is simply setting in stone changes that were well under way from before the Great Recession of 2008: the return of the gilded era of the early 1900s; the rule of the billionaire owner of the multinational corporation; greater wealth inequality with the increasing economic, social and political disenfranchisement of the middle classes; and a frightening disregard by the wealthy and powerful owners of the fossil fuel industry for the consequences of climate change.
The preceding are the questions that require answers. Pro-action is better than reaction. This is the time for out-of-box thinking. And time is running out if negative trends that increasingly impact humanity are to be reversed.
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