Right now the coronavirus is not something to feel positive about, but hopefully when the world recovers from this pandemic (we hope!), the human race will emerge from the abyss the better for it, after learning some very hard lessons.
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and, sadly, the coronavirus has killed many people and there’s no doubt it will take many more victims in time. Yet, for those of us that make it out, perhaps we will have a better understanding of human nature and take a different approach to the way we live our lives. So the Essential Millennial has compiled a list of five lessons to take home from the COVID-19 crisis.
Home is where the heart (and the workplace) is
While living in a state of social isolation is frustrating and is really hard for our social lives, it might have a good effect on our family lives. The result will be either that we want to kill our partners and/or kids once we get sick of being closer to them or, hopefully, our relationships will grow stronger. The modern family typically consists of two working parents, meaning that there is less time for family, kids get neglected and families are broken up.
Even the most staunch feminists acknowledge that divorce rates steadily rose between the mid-1800s through to the 1950s and that they rose to their highest points between the 60s and the 70s. The research is quite clear. With more and more women in the workplace, which is obviously a good thing, less time has been allocated to home-making. This is also a shortcoming of men, of course, who could have picked up the slack.
An Equality and Human Rights Commission survey of 472 men and 679 women that are currently working flexibly found 70% of respondents reporting that they get to spend more time with their family and many believe that it improves the quality of their (60%) and their children’s (63%) lives. Furthermore, more than half of the women reported that it saved costs, while more than half the men believe it helps them to share family responsibilities.
And you may be surprised to find that research shows that divorce rates have actually been declining in the 21st century, along with the rise of flexible working and telecommuting.
Another massive benefit is a lower exposure to traffic. I think everyone agrees that traffic is a major drain on their daily happiness. And the research exists to prove it too. This article in the Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences found that “traffic congestion has been found to disturb mood, leading to frustration at work and work absences” and that bus drivers reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression compared to the results with non-drivers of similar working environment.
Furthermore, the economic benefits for BUSINESSES are remarkable. Not only are workers happier and more productive, but overhead costs such as rent on office spaces, workplace supplies and, of course, travel costs were dramatically reduced. Power bills and the cost of Internet and IT support are also drastically reduced, as shown in this article.
So one lesson that we will hopefully be learning from the COVID-19 pandemic is that there are plenty of economic befits, as well as a positive effect on our family life, coming out of working from home, and that it can be done without destroying business. So while we’re being forced to work from home, when it’s all said and done, hopefully we won’t be forced to go back to the office.
We are social animals
It’s a fact. Human beings need each other to survive. Hopefully we will come to realise something about our nature that has long been forgotten in today’s material world. All the iPads, televisions, antique coffee tables, video games and luxury goods in the world cannot make up for the value we get from being around one another. I may sound like a total hippie, but love makes the world go around… not money. Without our friends, co-workers and even complete strangers, our lives become meaningless, bland, boring and even suffocating. Another study in American Sociological Review found that social isolation has also been found to be associated with poor mental health including increased risk for depression, cognitive decline, anxiety, and substance use. Social isolation in elderly individuals is also associated with an increased risk for dementia.
Let’s all hope that the coronavirus will teach us how important it is to love our fellow man.
Waiters,store clerks, nurses & farmers are the backbone of our economy
We often overlook the service economy and glorify lawyers, actuaries, accountants and engineers as the cornerstones for our economy. And while their professions are certainly respectable in many, many ways, the people that really keep our world afloat are the people serving us food, healthcare professionals, farmers. Without our doctors, our nurses, electricians and manual labourers, we cannot survive. The people that provide essential services are the ones who keep our economy going in times like these, and yet, we underpay them and pay specialised workers wages that are significantly higher. But what do the specialised occupations really do for us. Nurses are currently being paid peanuts while they expose themselves to this killer virus, for the sake of saving lives. That’s not to discount the doctors either, but at least they get to make a decent living out of it. Perhaps it’s time we all learned to show the people who we consider “lesser” a bit more respect and address our societal consensus that they should be paid less than anyone else. And speaking of the nature of our economy…
The economy is a myth
It really is… of course we are in the midst of the worst economic collapse of our lifetime, but when it comes down to life or death, what roles do stocks play? Nothing. Less than nothing. They are a distraction from the real challenge. Now is the time to share with our fellow man, because this disease does not discriminate according to wealth or social class. Money cannot buy you good health and the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have nothing tangible to offer. It is only the small businesses, the grocery store around the corner that sustains life.
Climate change and overpopulation are existential threats
A 2014 study by the Earth Institute at Columbia University found that climate change and the spread of infectious diseases are irrefutably linked and global warming is exacerbating it.
“Dry seasons followed by heavy rainfalls that produce an abundance of fruit have coincided with outbreaks,” the study states. “When fruit is plentiful, bats and apes may gather together to eat, providing opportunities for the disease to jump between species. Humans can contract the disease by eating or handling an infected animal.”
With the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reporting in 2018 that we only have until 2030 to curb “catastrophic climate change”, we’re running out of time to make the changes to our lifestyles that we need to make before things get completely out of hand and this coronavirus outbreak might look like a walk in the park, in comparison.
And it’s no coincidence that this outbreak originated in the world’s most highly populated country, China. With people basically living on top of each other there, it is a breeding ground for disease. The UN has estimated that the global population might reach 11 billion by the end of the century. Something needs to be done about this.
“There’s a strong correlation between the risk of pandemic and human population density. We’ve done the math and we’ve proved it,” said Dr. Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist and the president of Eco Health Alliance, who examined the link in a 2008 study published in the journal Nature.
How do we curb the population growth that is coming? Have less kids. We are responsible for the lives we create and we’re responsible for its creation too. We need to end the narcissistic ideas that we have to have children, or at the very least, that we have to have more than two. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but it’s the reality we face nonetheless.
A philosophical conclusion
Hopefully the coronavirus will kick-start an awakening of sorts in us all. Hopefully mankind experiences some kind of epiphany, which is that nothing in this world holds more value than your health. Not just in times of pandemics, but every day. Now that you’re staying at home, you should be exercising, staying healthy, being vigilant with your personal hygiene and looking after yourself in every way you can.
When people get diagnosed with terminal diseases, you aren’t likely to hear them say, “I wish I made more money” or “I wish I bought that car”. It’s always “I wish I spent more time with my family” or “I wish I had could have lived to see my grandchildren” or something to that effect. Time and your health are the only things you can never get back. You can lose all your money and earn more, you can’t buy a new set of lungs. So throw away those cigarettes, eat healthily, exercise, spend time with your family, tell your partner that you love them, stop drinking… do whatever you need to do to embrace the things in life that really matter and stop chasing that rainbow of a successful career, because you will find that there is no pot of gold at the end of it.