You Cannot Step into the Same River Twice
We may be relieved that the economy is reopening and we are coming out of the lockdown, but as Heraclitus said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” Our pre-coronavirus way of life will not return. We have entered a new era, and the quicker and more consciously we step into it, the easier will be the transition. The more we resist the transformation, the more traumatic it will be.
COVID-19 has ushered us into a new reality. It is the first time we truly see that humanity is one entity whose parts are all interdependent. It is also the first time we realize that thinking of ourselves is useless, since others can infect us no matter how careful we are. This pandemic was the first lesson in mutual responsibility that the coronavirus gave us, and it is one of many more to come.
“Since society will commend people who promote the well-being of the whole society, people will value themselves according to their contribution to society.”
Now that we have learned that we are all responsible for one another, we will gradually learn what that means in every aspect of our lives. At first, we might wish to return to our previous lives of excessive consumerism and self-entitlement, but this will only result in a return of the virus or its “successors.” We already know that our mistreatment of the environment inflicted this menace on us, so as we suffer more and more blows from nature’s “retaliation,” we will accept that we cannot keep living as we have.
The abandonment of unbridled capitalism and ruthless competition will inevitably result in high unemployment rates. At that point, the virus (or its implications) will teach us another lesson: Authorities will see that every person gets a basic income that enables provision of all staples — food, clothing, healthcare, housing, and education.
As more and more jobs become automated, the level of joblessness will grow and force authorities to rethink priorities. Provision of basic income will sustain people on the physical level but their idleness and lack of challenges will impair their mental health and make them apathetic and unruly.
This is where the next lesson of the coronavirus will come into play. To cope with growing apathy, authorities will be compelled to stipulate reception of basic income benefits on participation in courses and trainings. This will begin the actual transition of society into the new era.
The trainings and courses will focus on two categories: technology and society. The courses in technology will equip people with the professional skills required in an era where jobs change quickly and evaporate even more quickly. People’s learning skills will need to be honed so they can become flexible and open to changes.
The more complicated training will deal with society. First, people will learn what it means for them that the world is an integral system whose parts are all interconnected and interdependent.
Since people feel good when they can live according to their values, the training will focus on the merits of individuals who contribute to society. Gradually, people will shift from perceiving success as gaining possessions to perceiving it as advancing society. Since society will commend people who promote the well-being of the whole society, people will value themselves according to their contribution to society. At that point, they will perceive themselves as parts of the common body of society and will function in harmony with it.
Once people have fully processed these lessons, they will no longer mistreat one another or nature. Their worldview will become expansive and complete, and they will grasp reality from the point of view of the whole of society and the whole planet, our common home. By this time, people’s attitude toward each other and to nature will have been reversed from negative to positive. Just as it was natural for them to care about themselves before, it will be natural for them to care about others. And since everyone will operate precisely so, the new reality will actually be a different world — where ill will and mistreatment of others will become contemptible, abominable, and humanity will abandon egoism once and for all.