Coronavirus: Time to reassess our values and focus on important things in life

The virus, borderless and indiscriminate in its reach, isn't only contaminating our airways. It is unzipping our very way of life. Holding a mirror up to our bewildered faces, it dares us to look at ourselves head-on and ask: What matters?
Some of the answers are easy. Ventilators matter. How many does your country have per 100,000 people? The answer could be the difference between life and death.
Supermarket cashiers matter. "They're doing one of the hardest jobs that exist right now," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a recent television address. "Thank you for being there for your fellow citizens and for literally keeping the shop running."

Also visible in our pandemic-inspired looking glass: the pitfalls and possibilities of globalization. American tech titans left quivering as shuttered factories in China cut out crucial parts of their supply chains. German car giants halting production because they can't get the components they need.

And let us not forget the people who have conspired to stand on their balconies to applaud the health care workers in their communities. Those who have taped signs to their front doors offering to do the shopping for neighbors who can't get out.
It's also worth noting that the pandemic has produced another casualty: FOMO, or "fear of missing out." Most commonly associated with Instagram hashtags or as the subject of think pieces aimed at a millennial audience, FOMO — previously known as "keeping up with the Jones" — is nothing less than the lifeblood of capitalism. Now it is facing an existential crisis.
It is difficult to compete with your neighbors when you are in self-isolation. The people across the way may have very clean windows. But you can only see them because your own are gleaming too. When you have purchased all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer you can store, there is little else to covet.

Shift in perception
All of a sudden, it is the things you cannot buy that become worthy of envy. The old woman happily sunning herself on her balcony. The bopping shadow of a father carrying his newborn around in a sling at night. The sound of the family next door laughing over a game of Monopoly. And you never knew your neighbor could play the piano so beautifully! Domestic contentment has acquired the credentials of a currency.

What other insights can we garner from this disaster
? That there is a correlation between populist leaders and the time taken to accept reality. The extra days and weeks Trump, Johnson et al needed to bust the myth of their own exceptionalism have already cost lives.
Meanwhile, as countries including the United States rush to introduce the biggest economic stimulus packages in their history, it is worth considering that if small government offers no cure in a pandemic, it may not be the healthiest option in ordinary times either.
In the weeks and months ahead, normality will return to one country at a time. Goods will once again roll off assembly lines. Shops will reopen. The rat race will resume.
But maybe, just maybe, if we take this opportunity for self-reflection, things won't feel quite the same.
Kate Ferguson

Most Read

Apple's Siri violated the privacy of millions- Whistleblower

Easy Jet Cyber attack: Criminals may keep the data – which includes credit card information – to issue ransoms or use in organised crime

Coronavirus in Africa: Stigma weighs heavily in sub-Saharan Africa

Jos Sex Video : Girl who resembles actor in Jos sex video faces hostility

Covid-19 in Nigeria: Most deaths are from wealthy people who chose home-based care

Covid-19: More than 40 diagnosed with COVID-19 after Frankfurt church service

Covid-19: South Korean schools close after kindergartner tests positive for coronavirus

How Indian firm iSON Xperiences endangers workers lives with crowded workspace amidst pandemic

2020 Met Gala Is Officially Canceled

President Trump says he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus