The World after COVID-19

The day will come when the COVID-19 virus will be behind us, at least for the time being.

It is already beginning to happen in China. In Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, where the pandemic started, life is beginning to return to some kind of normality after two months of isolation.

The world looks with anticipation at what is happening in Wuhan in the hope that the day will soon come when we too shall see things stabilize and few if any new cases of infection will be detected.

However, when we come out of our homes and our self-imposed isolation, we shall discover a very different world from the one that we knew. Just as Europeans at the end of World War II left their bomb shelters only to discover that their cities had been destroyed and left in ruins, so we too shall be faced with a new reality and will need to rebuild our lives.

We do not know how many people will have died by then. Even by today’s figures we are talking of tens of thousands. However, it is not only the tragic loss of life with which we shall have to contend but also with a global economy that will have shrunk considerably.

Life isn’t going to return to what is was overnight or perhaps ever. Millions will have lost their jobs; companies will have filed for bankruptcy and many small businesses will have collapsed. Unlike the few who will have profited from the pandemic, most of us will be poorer and many will be helpless. People will be unable to meet their mortgage or rent payments and there will be many more homeless and beggars on our streets.

The wealthy will be less wealthy and feel less financially secure. Those institutions – from hospitals to universities, from museums to theatres, from charities to non-profit organizations – that are dependent upon the generosity of the public to balance their budgets will be faced with unprecedented challenges and many will go under.

Now all of this may sound like a tale of doom and gloom, but one of the lessons of the Great Depression and of two world wars is that however desperate things may be, humankind is capable of bouncing back.

COVIC-19 should be a wake-up call for us all. Nature is telling us that things need to change. The ever-growing gap between rich and poor is intolerable. It was one of the features of society that led to the Great Depression. The dangers of climate change threaten our planet’s very survival in spite of Donald Trump’s protestations to the contrary. COVIC-19 has slowed down our world. One has only to look at comparative satellite images of the level of air pollution to realize the ecological benefit that that could bring us.

Perhaps we needed this pandemic to remind us how much we are dependent upon one another in this global village. The coronavirus does not distinguish between nation and nation, between rich and poor, between races and creeds, because humankind is one. Perhaps we needed to be reminded of that. So, it is not all bad. However, our world has changed and we shall need resourceful and imaginative governments and leaders to help us rebuild our lives.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.
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