Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently

More of us are realizing many of effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue for a long time, some permanently.

A recent (3/19/2020) article in POLITICO, Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come” presents a number of interesting ideas.

But crisis moments also present opportunity: more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but here is our best stab at a guide to the unknown ways that society—government, healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more—will change.

For a many years I’ve been praying, thinking and writing about how our near and long term future might look. This began in 1970, when an Iowa farm boy moved to Indianapolis and was traumatized by seeing thousands of cars, and how they were polluting the air we all breathed. This was before catalytic converters, so smog was blocking out the sun. I couldn’t be part of that, so have lived without a car since then. That triggered a life long study of climate science.

The point is, this focus on our environment made me aware of how our environment was being damaged, and anticipating the changes to come. I anticipated the breakdown of our social, economic and political systems as pollution of our air, water and land overwhelm Mother Earth’s ability to somewhat mitigate the damage.

Increasing food and water insecurity and physical devastation from flooding, strong storms, desertification and massive, fierce wildfires are rapidly adding to the millions of climate refugees that already exist. Conflicts will continue to break out over access to water, food, shelter, energy and healthcare. Between countries over resources. Between climate refugees and those living where refugees are forced to flee.

I thought these social, economic and political changes would accelerate in the coming years. But now, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many of those changes in just a matter of months!


The rules we’ve lived by won’t all apply.

America’s response to coronavirus pandemic has revealed a simple truth: So many policies that our elected officials have long told us were impossible and impractical were eminently possible and practical all along
It’s clear that in a crisis, the rules don’t apply—which makes you wonder why they are rules in the first place. This is an unprecedented opportunity to not just hit the pause button and temporarily ease the pain, but to permanently change the rules so that untold millions of people aren’t so vulnerable to begin with.

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker and author of Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

This is playing out right now as Congress is considering a temporary guaranteed income, somewhat universal heath care, etc. And Congress has somehow found trillions of dollars to spend now, after saying for decades millions of dollars had to be cut from social safety nets.


Expect a political uprising.

The aftermath of the coronavirus is likely to include a new political uprising—an Occupy Wall Street 2.0, but this time much more massive and angrier. Once the health emergency is over, we will see the extent to which rich, well-connected and well-resourced communities will have been taken care of, while contingent, poor and stigmatized communities will have been thoroughly destroyed. Moreover, we will have seen how political action is possible—multitrillion dollar bailouts and projects can be mobilized quickly—but only if the cause is considered urgent. This mismatch of long-disregarded populations finally getting the message that their needs are not only chronically unattended, but also chronically dismissed as politically required, will likely have drastic, pitchfork consequences.

Cathy O’Neil is founder and CEO of the algorithmic auditing company ORCAA and author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy.

For some time this uprising has been occurring as Indigenous peoples around the world are rising up to protect Mother Earth. Protect water and demand honoring treaties, Indigenous rights and respecting unceded lands. #LandBack. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Standing Rock. Wet’suwet’en.


A change in our understanding of ‘change.’

“Paradigm shift” is among the most overused phrases in journalism. Yet the coronavirus pandemic may be one case where it applies. American society is familiar with a specific model of change, operating within the existing parameters of our liberal democratic institutions, mostly free market and society of expressive individualism. But the coronavirus doesn’t just attack the immune system. Like the Civil War, Great Depression and World War II, it has the potential to infect the foundations of free society

Matthew Continetti is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The current Republican administration seems to delight in punishing non-White people, inflicting damage on Mother Earth and promoting authoritarianism at home and around the world. But the ineptitude of their response to the coronavirus pandemic, the suppression of civil liberties and the ever increasing income gap has many feeling change within the system is not possible. A friend of mine recently put it this way:

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

Ronnie James

Less individualism.

The coronavirus pandemic marks the end of our romance with market society and hyper-individualism. We could turn toward authoritarianism. Imagine President Donald Trump trying to suspend the November election. Consider the prospect of a military crackdown. The dystopian scenario is real. But I believe we will go in the other direction. We’re now seeing the market-based models for social organization fail, catastrophically, as self-seeking behavior (from Trump down) makes this crisis so much more dangerous than it needed to be.
When this ends, we will reorient our politics and make substantial new investments in public goods—for health, especially—and public services.

Eric Klinenberg is professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author, most recently, of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.

The remarkable responses of people and small business to COVID-19 markedly contrast the failure of the government to do what needs to be done. These public responses remind us of the times when we, the people, rose to the occasion.


Religious worship will look different.

All faiths have dealt with the challenge of keeping faith alive under the adverse conditions of war or diaspora or persecution—but never all faiths at the same time. Religion in the time of quarantine will challenge conceptions of what it means to minister and to fellowship. But it will also expand the opportunities for those who have no local congregation to sample sermons from afar. Contemplative practices may gain popularity. And maybe—just maybe—the culture war that has branded those who preach about the common good with the epithet “Social Justice Warriors” may ease amid the very present reminder of our interconnected humanity.

Amy Sullivan is director of strategy for Vote Common Good.

The challenges of the coronovirus have definitely affected the Quaker meetings I know of. Since we don’t use ministers, and worship in silence for about an hour, some Friends do this in their own homes at the scheduled time. Several meetings are using ZOOM to connect with each other remotely.

My Quaker meeting, Bear Creek, is in the Iowa countryside. On any given Sunday there are usually around a dozen who gather. But other meeting members strive to stay in touch with the meeting even though they live far away. One of our practices is to consider Queries once a month. There are twelve sets of queries, so a different one is worked on each month. Here are the queries about Outreach:

  1. Do we encourage intervisitation within the Yearly Meeting and with other Friends?
  2. What are we doing to share our faith with others outside our Friends community? How do we speak truth as we know it and yet remain open to truth as understood by others?
  3. In what ways do we cooperate with persons and groups with whom we share concerns? How do we reach out to those with whom we disagree?
  4. How do we make the presence of our meeting known to the larger community? Do we invite others to share in our Meetings for Worship and other meeting activities? Do we welcome everyone and appreciate the gifts that differences such as race, creed, economic status, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation may bring to us?

Several years ago we began the practice we call “long distance queries”. That month’s queries are emailed to distant Friends, who can send there responses back to the meeting. When the Quakers gather at the meetinghouse, these emailed responses are included in the query discussion.

Now that we don’t gather physically due to the coronavirus we have tried to use ZOOM for our pre-meeting discussions. Some aren’t comfortable with that format of gathering. But as time under the threat of the virus goes on, I think more of us will become comfortable.

Recently a ZOOM meeting was set up for the hour of silent worship. A small number of Quakers, from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota were on that call and everyone seemed to appreciate it.


There are more ideas in the article the quotations above came from. Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come. By POLITICO MAGAZINE 03/19/2020


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