The group had wanted to discuss how society could emerge from this pandemic better and fairer from the lessons learned. So we spent this session imagining suggested changes and improvements.
Our discussion was set within the six topics of the ‘Post-Covid Compassion Wheel’. It was suggested that within an increasingly technological world we maybe need to rethink traditional jobs and economic systems altogether. Potentially there is a lot of scope for ‘Green Jobs’; for research, invention, creation and development of doing everything greener! From travel, to deliveries, food production and fuel. For example the cement making industries who are looking to reabsorb CO2 emissions from the cement making process and use waste products from other industries, such as steel, to reduce waste and further reduce CO2 emissions.
Whilst the economy is struggling it was discussed that capitalism has perhaps transgressed from it’s original ideas, that accumulated wealth is not being redistributed or trickling down anywhere but is just sitting which is not helping the economy if money does not get reinvested. This brought up the topic of taxes as a way to fairly redistribute wealth if large co-operations did not have loopholes around which to avoid fair taxation. If a few people are sitting on most of the money the economy will stagnate, whereas if people had more access to disposable cash they would spend it.
We asked why is it that a careworker is valued so differently than a CEO. The monetary recognition is low for careworkers and keyworkers but dis-proportionally high for large corporations. For example, one co-operative CEO was valued at the equivalent of 3 top lawyers, 7 top accountants and 150 ordinary wage earners (Collier and Kay, 2020). Perhaps the balance could be tilted slightly.
We are aware that different generations are suffering in different ways from the impact of the pandemic. Older generations are more likely to face very worrying health issues from the virus itself whilst younger people are struggling more financially and seeing education and employment prospects severely disrupted. Very young children are affected by not being able to attend school in the traditional way and separation from extended family-which of course is also a loss for grandparents. There is also a greater risk for elderly people to become very isolated and cut off from care and support. The group suggested that it would be helpful to not blame different generations; we have heard of older people blaming young people for spreading the virus, and young people blaming older people for ruining their lives because they have to stay home. Where generations can be understanding of each other’s fears and worries this could lead to great benefits. The group gave examples of how perhaps young people could assist older people with becoming digitally connected so that they did not have to feel so isolated. This led us onto the idea of community; this pandemic has seen some communities really pull together and in other places a more individualist approach -such as buying all the toilet rolls has increased fear and isolation and anger. The group suggested that community spaces are very important and to look to increasing these. They noted that in their neighbourhoods they often saw community buildings become renovated into flats, and green spaces where they used to play football sold to developers. When communities have shared spaces and arts projects and combined purposes in an area this promotes a collective community identity rather than an individualistic outlook.