M Nadarajah looks at what some some young people were asked what kind of change they would like to see in the world after the pandemic.
Here are some observations captured from ‘casual/informal’ online and telephone conversations with some ‘informed’ young persons on a post-Covid-19 world.
The focus of the conversation: “Changes you would propose, or like to see, in the post-Covid-19 world and/or beyond… Be as creative, harsh, ridiculous or preposterous as you can be.”
Here is the (edited) collage they created:
- “We cannot win this ‘game’ we are playing with Nature. As a species, we are pretty pathetic at learning from our past. We are consumed by self-conceit. We repeat our mistakes. We are masters of self-deception. I don’t think we will seriously learn much from this pandemic. Unfortunately, we really need more of these epidemics, pandemics or global disasters to wake us up. Nature will wake us up eventually from our sleep walking”
- “Pandemic? We have been in one for a very, very long time without a vaccination. It has already maimed and killed millions of people and continues to do so. The pandemic of business-as-usual. The pandemic of greed. The pandemic of power. The pandemic of hate. We welcome, embrace, feed and fatten this pandemic. Why, we even build houses of worship for it! So, what is all this drama about now?”
- “Ban men from local, national and global leadership. Reserved only for women”
- “We definitely need social distance and quarantine as part of public policy. Strictly maintain social distance from all fascists, hate mongers (media included), war criminals, forest destroyers, animal hunters for trophies, religious fanatics, and modern slave owners. Quarantine them. In isolated islands. Or send them away to another planet. Or freeze them cryogenically”
- “Circular economy? OK, but progressively reduce the radius of the circle. Minimalise. Let go. Be. Say yes to a “be” economy. Say no to the “have” economy”
- “Localise. Minimalise. Indigenise. Feminise”
- “We urgently need a war on war. Illegalise. Criminalise. Ban. Defund. Build a weapons-free world. If nations want to fight, send their leaders to fight with their bare hands, face-to-face, in UN-sponsored fighting rings. Otherwise, nurture life. Celebrate Life. Flourish”
- “Democratise, bottom up. Democratise, top-down. Democratise, sideways, laterally. Democratise, diagonally. Democratise in a zigzag pattern. Just simply, deeply democratise”
- “Stop pushing whole populations to live and work in the web. Stop turning people into online and virtual copies. These technocratic wet dreams make us a moth flying straight into the flame. The first thing that is going to happen to us en masse is damage to our eyes, with the manifold mindless increase in screen time”
- “Kick ‘billionairism’ and ‘millionairism’ out of normality. Ban them. Devalue rags-to-riches stories. Make it difficult and vulgar! Liquidate ‘flabby assets’. Redistribute. Share wealth. Fund civic and public goods. Another normality please”
- “We should make labour part of our Commons. Labour from all, shared with all, commonly owned. Not privately accessed or owned. Labour as a shared common fund. In difficult times, individuals and families should be able to access this common fund in terms of food and other critical services they need”
- “We are on a spaceship with limits. Resources are limited. We are limited. No place for greed. No place for hoarding. No place for material possessiveness. No place for violence. Only complete love, trusteeship, stewardship and a caring ethos”
- “Stop suggesting ‘smart’ this and ‘smart’ that. It merely shows how stupid we can get!”
- “Gather all the hardcore globalists. Put them on a tough programme on localism. Make them work in different local fields, along with small farmers, to grow organic, nutritious food for the world. Also ‘bread labour’. Agro-ecological. Affordability. Accessibility”
- “Want genuine sustainable futures? Dump mainstream universities. Dump mainstream programmes. Dump mainstream careers. Dump mainstream products and productivity. Completely disrupt. Ready?”
- “We need a back-to-nature movement. De-urbanise. Grow trees and forests everywhere. Get off the grid. Dematerialise. Humanise. Spiritualise. Return Home”
Dr M Nadarajah, a sociologist by training, is an Asian Public Intellectuals (API) fellow whose work focuses on cultural and sustainability issues. An associate director with Sejahtera Leadership Initiative, he also heads the Xavier Centre for New Humanities and Compassion Studies at Xavier University in Bhubaneswar, India.