I booked my COVID shot today.
I’m excited to be not facing another year fearing a deadly disease with unknown long-term consequences that I could pass on to my loved ones but the pandemic only pales in comparison to other crises that are coming.
Getting through the pandemic has been one of the hardest things we’ve had to do in a very long time. It could have been a chance for us to come together, to look at the parts of our society that are failing and re-organize to benefit the majority of humanity.
We could have lifted up the people who have been made most vulnerable by the last hundred years of status quo, started a meaningful transition away from industries that not only pollute and degrade our natural environment but also cannot profit without government subsidies, and created programs to help people in an equitable way.
We have done some good things over the past year or so. Communication between groups that help people in Campbell River is increasing, a spotlight has been put on systemic racism, we’ve proven that we can help people who need it, and we’ve shown that if we work together we can come up with monumental solutions to our problems in record time.
However, we’ve also had some ugly moments. What should have united us caused a bitter and deep divide that we have not come close to rectifying, our carbon emissions are rocketing past any previous records, we almost witnessed the collapse of democracy in our neighbour to the south, the wealth of billionaires has reached incomprehensible levels and we can’t even agree on what is real anymore.
The thing is, all of these issues have roots that go back way before the pandemic and we’ve been barrelling towards this state of affairs for longer than I’ve been alive. For things to go back to the way they were before is to take a step back and leave us all vulnerable to future crises.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call. It showed me that things are not working very well, that the institutions, industries and systems that we’ve invented in the 20th century are hurting us, and that changing these is going to be an almost impossible task. With wealth inequality, racism, mass extinction and the climate crisis all looming, we have to make these changes immediately.
What I want is a world where my children don’t have to worry about their home burning down every summer, where pandemics like COVID-19 aren’t a regular thing, where all people and creatures are treated equitably and with compassion and we all try to make the world a better place for everyone who lives in it.
While the pandemic is far from over, booking my first shot seems like one step closer to it being done.
I hope that we’re able to learn something from the last 18 months, take a long hard look at how we got here and what we need to do differently before the next crisis hits.
I hope I’m wrong, but I think we missed our shot.