How many times have I heard in the past few weeks that people are waiting for things to get back to normal. To be able to shop, dine out, see friends, and travel without worrying about getting sick will be a wonderful day. Everyone's lives have been impacted by this virus and we all hope for a day when we will be able to go back to our pre-COVID lives.
There is just one thing. For many people, life before COVID was far from ideal. Yes many people were doing ok under life before COVID. However many were not. The poor and the desperately poor were being left further and further behind. Women were still being paid significantly less than men and were under represented in corporate board rooms and in the government. In Canada those who are not Caucasian still find life difficult and First Nations Canadians were still trying to make their voices heard. Those who are LGBQT still find lack of acceptance in many places. Life before COVID was not perfect for many people in our country.
This virus has also allowed us to recognize deficiencies in the way we take care for one another. Health care expenditures have been cut (factoring in inflation and growth in population) for years now. Spending on social services and mental health services have been cut. Needful things like safety inspections in nursing homes and meat packing plants have been cut back or have been done on line. Grants to universities where money is given to train many of our front line responders have also been cut. This crisis has revealed the real cracks in our system caused by years of under funding.
I have also marveled at some of the stories about how the earth has rebounded since government imposed shut downs on places. Last week I saw a picture of Los Angeles. The sky was crystal blue and not covered in smog. For the first time in decades Mount Everest was seen from the neighbouring valley floors. Dolphins have been swimming in Venice and the canals are clear. Foxes have been spotted in huge numbers in Toronto, sheep have been traversing down village streets in England, and deer have been seen in areas where they were long thought to have disappeared. For a few weeks now, we have been able to observe what damage our industrial society has had on our environment.
This virus is horrible. The effects that it has had on our hospital system, on those who have become ill and died, on families, on businesses, on workers is immense. No one has been immune from it and we will be paying for the virus' effects for years. Like many, I hope life will get back to "normal". I pray though, that the new normal will be better. I pray it will be a place where all people are treated equally not just some. I pray that governments will truly examine what their priorities should be and that spending on social expenses will be considered not a luxury but a necessity. I pray that we take a closer look at how our actions impact this planet. Life was ok for some before COVID and difficult for all of us during COVID. May we strive to make life good for all after COVID. I don't want life to be "normal" again. I want it to be even better than normal. Blessings.