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This is the third in an ongoing series of posts exploring what might change over the course of this pandemic—not in terms of the virus, but in terms of our personal, professional, and cultural responses.

In Canada and all over the world, this pandemic is showing a yawning and widening gap between those who have and those who do not. As an optimist, I am finding hope even in this scenario.

My hope is that this very sudden exposure of the rifts that have always existed between us will shock people into an awakening of compassion. Faced with how very many people have precarious or no housing, how many people are in violent homes, and how many people simply cannot afford to both house and feed their children, I have to believe that people will be motivated to make real societal change. I’ve seen this shift already, as universal basic income has moved from a pipe dream in Canada to something being discussed in the mainstream as a very plausible and appealing solution to a long-term crisis of this magnitude.

I hope that people act on their compassion on an individual level. We need to make immediate donations to shelters and food banks as we are able. And I hope that the government continues to act on compassion, both at home by expanding the relief programs, and abroad.

I am seeing so many seeing leaders around the world stepping into a more global leadership, realizing the need for international cooperation in the face of this disaster. Does that mean we can expect coordinated efforts around human rights atrocities, around the climate crisis? I hope so. Will rich nations own their part in climate injustice and make the changes necessary to protect the planet and all of its inhabitants?

Compassion, both personal and societal, has the potential to change the course the world has been set on, to close the rifts between the wealthy and the poor. Can we make this shift? Have you had any increase in your own compassion since this began?