If We Are Really in This Together …
There are lots of signs of encouragement, new empowerment and the positive sharing of ideas, care, assistance, helpful hints, meditative and relaxation practices, updated information, music, humour, prayers and worship, virtual hugs even. Online ordering and sales have skyrocketed. The majority of people are taking social distancing and protective measures seriously, and many are finding ways to stay connected through Internet chatrooms and Zoom, etc., through short and minimized in-person visits and backyard happy hours, etc. And in these ways and more, we are truly responding to and managing our time and ourselves during this Covid-19 pandemic in a spirit of “We are all in this together”.
However, that isn’t universal. And while those who choose to gather in larger groups in parks and street corners and in protest rallies and marches (which also need to happen, although it isn’t always done completely safely), and those who are being rudely strident about “you can’t tell me what to do in a free country”, put the push to flatten the curve at risk, cause me some concern; I am content to wait and see how their risk-taking plays out.
I am more dismayed by others who have seen this outbreak as a time for “opportunity” – an opportunity to make some fast and furious profits: those who hoarded toilet paper and then sold it a $2+ per roll for instance; those who inflated their prices on hand sanitizers, gloves, face masks, face shields, sanitary wipes for instance. What has also been showing up recently are a number of service providers who are adding in a non-sanctioned “Covid-19” tax: on home electrical repair services, on contact lens fittings at a local optical store, on some forms of deferred payment on loans or rent or credit card bills. Yes, business is tough. Yes, many of us in and out of business have taken a hit; but this is no time to gouge the public trying to recoup some of your real and anticipated losses.
As we all come out slowly from this bizarre time, I also suspect our governments will jack up income taxes to cover the extraordinary expenses for seeing us through Covid-19. Which might be okay if they do it very fairly and on a totally graduated-geared-to-actual-income during these times basis.
If we are really all in this together, then let us refuse to pay extra to any economic opportunist. If we are really all in this together, then let us advocate now for a fairer, geared-to-income system of taxation and fewer loopholes for corporations and high-income individuals to find ways of dodging paying their fairer share.
If we are really all in this together, let us join the national movement already in motion to create a Universal Basic Income, so that no one falls below any poverty line.
If we are really all in this together, let us use this economic and personal rhythm slowdown time to encourage our brightest minds to rebuild a truly fair, just, and global economy. Which may mean, cancelling wads of debt or reducing it by 50% and starting over from the ground up. Which may mean looking at Scandinavian models of governance and taxation which seem at present to ensure that everyone has enough to live on, that everyone has paid access to literacy and higher education, that everyone has access to adequate and competent medical care and health services, that everyone might have access to international travel and very few issues crossing borders, that everyone might have a living environment that is not riddled with hate, or threats, or violence, or systemic injustice. Let us take this time to rebuild a new, vibrant world where everyone in fact matters and has something of value to contribute to the health and well-being of the whole human family and to God’s creation