Did Covid19 create a more equal society?
I think not - well, not yet. So in the interest of keeping it real, and actually trying to create a better balance, please spare me the "We are all in this together" nonsense this time round.
I am unsure as to why this became bandied around so broadly, and even more at a loss as to why people felt this sentiment helped anyone. Are we really so inept at seeing what is before us, of discerning reality in this era of “fake news” that we blithely accept this statement as truth?
I’m sorry, last time I looked I didn’t have Jeff Bezos’ fortune, and therefore ability to quarantine on a private island if I so desired, I didn’t have a holiday home to escape to, nor did I have a helicopter to escape to it on, if I travel back home to Australia I have to quarantine in a soulless hotel for two weeks, and pay for the pleasure - yes Danni Minogue, Nicole Kidman et al. I see you - nor did I have the constant nagging worry of how I would feed my family, pay for healthcare, get a job, or merely survive.
Yes, the pandemic happened, still is happening, to us all but in different measures. And it is not the great equalizer as many would have us believe. Actually, it has been the great divider on many, many scales.
So, the “we are all in this together” sentiment is - simply put - a whole load of crap. We are definitely not all in this together. We never were. The pandemic might not have shown discretion - and that may well be the sentiment behind this blithe saying, it can strike anyone, anytime, it does not discriminate - but if you own a few country houses and a helicopter and can isolate in anyone of them, or even afford healthcare, then I think your “together” is a little different to many others.
I think the Kardashian’s proved this point perfectly in the excruciatingly nauseous tabloid photos with their Bahamas jaunt a few months back - or whatever private island they all escaped to on their private jets for “Kimmies 40th”. Sooooo tone deaf it does not bear thinking about, but hey, millions of people actually follow them, allowing them to be become this self-absorbed and narcissistic even during a pandemic – hell, because of a pandemic. I did not read the full article, I make a point of not clicking on this type of “news”, but there was a caption that mentioned something along the lines that Kimmie let her Insta followers know she was feeling humbled (WTF?), and blessed. Enough already people.
So, while the pandemic may not yet end in a beautiful rendition of “We are all in this together” Live Aid style, what it did ultimately highlight was the extreme difference between the haves, and the have nots. A seeming return to what was deemed the gilded age was already upon us with the disparity between the mega-rich and the ultra-poor already becoming achingly obvious in the run-up before the pandemic. When individuals have a net worth more than some countries, you understand the world has become entirely unbalanced and maybe something needs to be done.
Yet the pandemic did not end this inequality. Actually, it exacerbated it. Online spending went through the roof, with Amazon coming out another big winner, guess who got a whole lot richer? Pharmaceutical companies were in a race against time to create vaccines, guess who got a whole lot richer? Superyachts were feted as ultimate luxury spaces to quarantine, guess who could afford those, and guess who got a whole lot richer?
I am not blaming people with the means to afford these offerings and opportunities, or that some clever people even made money during the pandemic or launched a successful business, good for them I say, that is what freedom and capitalism is all about; and I am a staunch supporter of both. What I take umbrage to is a trotted-out sentiment aimed at the less well-off, stating that we share your pain, we have been decimated by the pandemic as well! Again, your decimated and mine might look a little different.
If there is one thing however the pandemic did do, is that it caused many to question the status quo. For me the burning question is this: why, all of a sudden (sudden in the grand scheme of things, history and all that) is everyone pretending to be equal, that no class exists, that there is no division, that this pandemic has brought us greater understanding and more emotional intelligence? Made us more humane, and closer. Why are we so dishonest with ourselves these days? That we can’t even admit the truth when it is staring us down from an incredibly close range.
I am all for diversity acceptance, tolerance, freedom and yes, capitalism. But to agree with those things means you need to accept them, in all their guises. Not just the bits you like to pull out (actually, sounds a bit like some religions I know). Diversity, by its very definition means a recognition of individual differences, so it stands to reason, if we aim for diversity - and we should - then it means we have to acknowledge that there are differences. Some are shocking, vile, not to mention incredibly unfair, and they definitely should not exist and we should work relentlessly to eradicate them, but we will never eradicate them by looking the other way and pretending they do not exist. That seems pretty straight up to me: acknowledgement is key to change. And this also embraces differences of opinion, freedom of speech and the ability to dissent - among others.
And that, at its core, is why I am so impassioned in stopping the spread of this obtuse sentiment: “We are all in this together”. Forget the vaccine all you conspiracy theorists - this is the big one. This seemingly harmless syntax alone has served to stop millions questioning the injustice of their position. This sentence has served to create a falsehood of humanity – sugar-coated a “caring community” that doesn’t exist at the level we need (not yet). If we were all in this together, then those individuals who are worth more than a country might have had to help out said country, not just their nearest and dearest. If we were truly all in this together, then taxes might have been re-designed permanently, political platforms entirely re-ordered (not just temporarily re-jigged) and equity and wealth redistributed in a much more abundant way than it so far has been.
And whilst I believe there are grounds for hope and many conversations have been opened up, I emphatically believe that such catch-all phrases will actually hinder the progress that needs to be made – or has been started.
So, for once in this whole crazy situation can we start being brutally honest with ourselves. No Woke conversations and Millennial slogans, no “fake news” and no labelling of the situation - just a bit of hard-core honesty.
This thing has ripped our world apart, and exposed some great gaping wounds that need to be anaesthetised, stitched up and tended to. It will take time, and a lot of rehabilitation, but at least we have seen them in all their gory detail and now, knowing they exist, we can work on healing them.
That is when we will need all of us to be in this together.