Will the Epidemic Change Social Habits?

Updated: May 24




The coronavirus epidemic has certainly stopped us from doing what we usually do. Without a doubt, it has disrupted many habits, and even initiated different behaviors. Waving instead of hugging. Keeping a good supply of toilet paper instead of waiting until it’s needed. Talking about the bravery of health workers instead of the skills of professional athletics. The question is whether we are learning new behaviors, or just pausing and waiting for things to kick into gear again?

If the pandemic had ended by Easter, then maybe all the deaths and the sacrifices would have been for naught. We could more easily bury what we learned about relationships and leadership and return to consumption and games. Our attention to the vulnerable could turn toward the invincible. Or, as the pandemic continues into April, May, and June, and maybe longer, we may see the nurse as a role model. We may imagine social systems not for masters, but for servants.

It could be that the government package of 2 trillion dollars gives us permission to imagine what money could do if it were a public good instead of a private asset. One could imagine that caring for the planet would create jobs and community.

The disruption of old social habits is an unintended consequence of responding to the dying and protecting the living. All the sacrifice and suffering should make a difference. We could learn to turn away from the trends that are destroying our habitats and learn to live in a more modest manner with each other and the earth. We could develop habits that fit with our earth’s habitat. The world’s children are watching.


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