The mysterious microbe originating from Wuhan, a city in mainland China, has now spread across all the continents of the world (barring Antarctica). COVID-19, a virus belonging to the family of coronaviruses, poses a threat to humanity, as a whole. At this stage, we find ourselves severely impacted by the tragic effects of this pandemic.
All over the world, scientists and health professionals are struggling to develop a vaccine, to protect the people from the horrifying effects of this extremely contagious virus. Amidst these challenging times, it has become an absolute necessity to keep our hopes firmly intact. We already have borders closing, stock markets crashing, and a global recession in the making; hope remains our last bet to overcome this crisis.
As the virus spreads globally, governments must address public mental health needs by developing and implementing well-coordinated strategic plans to meet these needs during the Covid-19 pandemic
In such ill-fated times, Yuval Noah Harari, the renowned author of Sapiens, has published an article titled “The world after Coronavirus”. Through this piece, he sheds light on the long term cultural, political, and economic impacts of this latest pandemic — eventually leading to a substantial change in the world. In his article he says:
“Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service because the risks of doing nothing are bigger.”
Harari’s insight is thought-provoking, if not necessarily promising. It is prudent to evaluate the repercussions of this evolving crisis and what the world, as we see today, will look like in the near future, with the developments currently afoot.
Read more: Can Covid-19 bring US and Iran closer?
Death of traditional office?
During these testing times, when world governments have declared emergencies; when nearly a third of the world is under virus lockdown — businesses are struggling to take a leap from conventional work practices to new and innovative methods of working from home. The President of Global Workplace Analytics, Kate Lister in a conversation with CNBC illustrates,
“The coronavirus is going to be a tipping point. We plodded along at about 10% growth a year for the last 10 years, but I foresee that this is going to accelerate the trend”
Furthermore, traditional work methods that required an employee to physically show up at the workplace will become redundant as soon as virtual networks begin to flourish. This phenomenon, while creating new challenges, will bear some positive implications too. For instance, it will help conserve energy that was erstwhile being wasted in travelling. Businesses will redefine their priorities and, by doing so, they will focus more on providing adequate communication facilities to their employees.
If we choose global solidarity, it will enable us to not only overcome the prevailing crisis, but also avert all such catastrophes that await us, in the near future
Women will be able to take leverage from this new normal. They will be able to escape the predatory and patriarchal nature of workplaces. It will empower them as thereafter, motherhood will not in any way, sabotage their chances of progressing professionally in their lives. All in all, virtual workplaces will positively impact the lives of working women worldwide.
However, Time magazine portrays a completely different picture. They claim that victims of domestic abuse have become even more vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdown, primarily owing to more time the victims and their abusers spend together.
Will there be more loneliness & depression?
Many extroverted people who were otherwise largely dependent on their interaction with people; particularly their friends and relatives, will have a hard time adjusting to the concept of social distancing. This has the potential to take a toll on their cognitive and emotional health. This may further lead to a surge in suicide rates and depression affectees around the world, eventually giving rise to a mental health crisis. A research paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases remarks,
“As the virus spreads globally, governments must address public mental health needs by developing and implementing well-coordinated strategic plans to meet these needs during the Covid-19 pandemic”
Demise of globalism & rise of toxic nationalism?
The circumstances which are currently unfolding will determine whether the international community will embrace globalism or adopt toxic nationalism, at the expense of others’ wellbeing. The world community was already perplexed by the United State’s relinquishing its role as the world leader; as under Trump it had started to move towards an “America First” policy.
But now under the latest challenge of corona, the US has even abandoned its closest allies. Europeans felt abandoned when Trump ordered closing of territorial borders without any prior notice. The future of the global world order will definitely be determined by the manner in which US responds to this pandemic.
Harari thinks that humanity is standing at a juncture where decisions have to be made keeping in mind the repercussions for the generations to come. It’s precisely this time when human race has to choose either solidarity or disunity. If we choose global solidarity, it will enable us to not only overcome the prevailing crisis, but may also avert catastrophes that await us, in the near future. On the flip side, if we choose disunity — we will quite certainly be treading down a path which will, if not anything else, result in an even greater human suffering.
Nida Akhtar is a blogger; her articles have appeared in several publications including Dunya. She is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.