Opportunity for change

Written by Brenda Schimke

We loved our life pre-pandemic— international travel, mass consumption, major league sports, dining out, multiple homes, individualism— and we’re all dreaming about getting back to normal.

Yet, maybe we should consider whether normal was really that great.

This pandemic has shone a harsh light on the gross inequalities in our societies.

Normal is housing our seniors in public and private ‘efficiency’ facilities with low staff-to-resident ratios, contracted out cleaning to the lowest bidder and undertrained, underpaid staff who by necessity are forced to work in multiple homes.

An efficiency model that is now killing our seniors, the very ones who sacrificed the most for what we enjoy today.

Normal is the trafficking of viruses, bacteria and the increased use of antibiotics as we demand cheap everything from Third World countries to meet our consumption addictions.

Normal is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, as chairman of the G20—a man who kills and cuts up reporters and runs the most repressive Muslim regime in the world.

Normal is anger after the 2018 economic crisis, especially in the United States, when government bailouts went to banks and investment giants allowing the rich of the richest to get richer and the little guy to get poorer.

Normal is the abandonment of global cooperation and the rise of nationalism.

Just imagine how we and the rest of the world will suffer if Trump’s America-first, profit-takers develop the vaccine.

Would they share the formula or hoard and drive up prices?

Normal is newsrooms and 24-hournews channels focussed on viewership numbers rather than news and facts.

By covering fake news, promoting talking heads and fermenting division they promote ‘arrogant ignorance’ which serves their profit goals, but not society.

Trump’s attack on the World Health Organization was simply accountability avoidance to shift blame for his gross mishandling of the virus crisis.

The lies and blame game of both China and the United States doesn’t change today’s reality—in the middle of a crisis, you look forward, not backwards.

Normal is political leaders leading by opinion polls and social media postings.

Successful pandemic leaders will be those who can lead with humility and facts rather than personality and ratings.

The successful leaders will stay focused on the enemy, rely on the experts and designate decision-making power to others.

They will be the ones who accept the reality that course correction is a legitimate part of steering the ship, and not a sign of weakness or poor decision-making.

Normal is attacking scientists, experts, academics— generally anyone with postsecondary education.

Personal and unfair attacks by Premier Kenney on Canada’s top general in the Covid-19 fight, Dr. Theresa Tam, reflects “gutter politics” even in the midst of a health crisis.

Normal is polluting the world endangering plant and animal species and human health.

The Chinese leaders after breathing fresh air and seeing blue skies may reconsider how future economic growth is fuelled.

Will Venetians ever again accept uncontrolled hordes of tourists or will they find a happier balance of less commerce and cleaner canals?

Normal is an obsession with the stock market and GDP.

Yet the wellbeing of humans is about how we allocate rare and limited resources, not stock market speculation or GDP numbers that grow even because of tragedies, exploitation and corruption.

After the pandemic, citizens will choose whether the health risks of low taxes, reduced regulations, small governments and increasing inequality are worth it, or whether investment in government capacity, people and our most vulnerable, example seniors, is the future we desire.


B. Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.