At the beginning of this year, I had a hunch. Life was about to transform. The present Neoliberal philosophy dictating our lifestyle had outlived its usefulness.
With some degree of discomfort I found myself predicting that humankind would need to adapt to new values going forward. My intuition was telling me that some massive societal change was in the air!
As a Facilitator of Conscious Ageing for the senior members of our community, I opened the first monthly meeting this year on 10th February, with an announcement. In the past, our special little group had investigated methods of living an emotionally filling life while looking after our cognitive and physical health. I now announced that the time had come to look at how climate change was desecrating our planet, and compromising our future lifestyle.
Very soon, news of a virus in China was making headlines. However, at this stage, it was still far away. Yes, it was someone else’s problem. At that time, the knowledge that the population of that vast country was going into a situation of limited physical contact did not seem particularly relevant.
It Affects All of Us
Some three months later, Covid-19 has become everybody’s problem. Listening to an online symposium from the Jung Platform I realised in no uncertain terms that the world needs to work together to find a solution to this devastating virus. Maybe the first time in history that 187 countries around the world have the same challenge confronting them.
Within this unique situation comes an opportunity. We are in a crisis of unknown length and proportions. I await the cohort of my grandchildren’s age to take over the leadership roles which will initiate a transformation from the present economic dispensation which benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. The discrepancy between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ has grown unconscionably during the past couple of decades. Critical changes need to be addressed in managing both the wealth and the power structures.
In South Africa, the lockdown started on Thursday March 26th, just seven weeks ago. This lifestyle restriction started with what was called Stage 5. Schools were closed, only essential work in the supply of food and pharmaceutics was allowed to carry on business as usual. All other commercial activity was to take place online. Of course, all sport was curtailed, exercise was allowed only in your private property, and no dog walking at any time of day or night!
This regime was originally mandated for three weeks. Then it was extended for a further two weeks. Now we are living in Stage 4. The only item that has changed for me is that we are now allowed to exercise within 5K of our residence between 6 and 9 in the morning.
Some of my Predictions
Educators in charge of teaching at both the level of school and university, tell us that teaching and learning will undergo some radical transformations, even when lockdown conditions are terminated. Senior students will not have to go to school every day as they are sufficiently disciplined to work on their own at home one or two days a week.
Under-graduate work at the university level will receive at least 30% of the curriculum online. It may be that schools will have to embark on two sessions a day to offer the pupils the necessary degree of physical space.
Many businesses will sanction a percentage of their workers to work from home. Maybe that will be for a couple of days a week or more! Office blocks may well be short of tenants. What I am looking forward to is the easing of congestion on our roads when parents do not need to take their children to school on a daily basis, and many employees will not need to travel to the office.
During the last couple of years travelling to adjacent suburbs in Cape Town had become a most prolonged and more stressful undertaking. I am hoping that at least that situation will be eased!
There are many adjustments that need to be made to cope with this period of lockdown. When more freedom of movement is allowed, our values, attitudes and mindsets will require some degree of recalibration. Novel remedies will be required to assist in the development of the flexible mindset required for changes of both routine and evaluation of values.
Mindfulness and meditation which have been growing in popularity the last couple of decades will, I believe, become an essential tool to assist people in adjusting to the new conditions of post lockdown. A greater awareness of the necessity to eat well, exercise regularly and have enough sleep will be required.
I wonder if more controls will be implemented to monitor the information that is allowed to be published on social media! The possibilities of false news have become so widespread and havecaused a great deal of unnecessary stress. As a senior, I am grateful that I do not need to participate in the news circulating on either Facebook or Instagram. Sadly, young people become victims of false information that is so freely published on these platforms.
Climate Change and Covid-19
A couple of months ago, when I recognised the relationship between Covid 19 and Climate Change, my evaluations were shrugged off by my peer group as illogical and alarmist. Today I already note a change in this response. I am detecting a growing acceptance that this enforced break in our habitual lifestyle has been thrust upon us for a reason. It has given humankind the opportunity to demonstrate the damage done to the environment by our free-wheeling industrialised society.
Since the curtailment of much economic activity, the birds are singing, fishes are returning to rivers, pollution levels are dropping.
It is sobering to reflect that this is the first year that carbon emissions throughout the world have diminished rather than grown. This is a superb demonstration of the malevolent implications of our lifestyle. The change in our pattern of living over the past couple of months has enhanced the air we breathe, as well as our natural environment.
I am continually asking myself, what can a solus blogger achieve? I believe that the time of a crisis creates an opportunity. It is my resolve to use this space to learn about the philosophy of people like Joanna Macey who has worked so tirelessly educating people on the implications of industrialisation and climate change. In the simplest terms, I believe we need to move from a mindset of abundance and growth to one of modesty and sustainability.
And, Going Forwards
Maybe the methodology of that transformation will be the subject of my next blog!