After more than four weeks of “social distancing”, it is hard to imagine life going back to normal when the peak of the corona virus and its effects die down. Life in quarantine has afforded a few pleasures as it has pains. To those left without work, a struggle has been undertaken in uncertainty and survival. To those fortunate enough to have retained their jobs, new methods of working and adapting to a historically difficult situation have presented themselves. The failures and difficulties have far outweighed the accidental successes and opportunists thriving in this unpredictable situation. Some believe that every cloud has a silver lining, and the pessimists in turn are certain that every cloud brings threat of rain and washout, especially to those ill prepared to get wet.
Despite the large sums touted for financial bailouts, generous donations by superstars in all realms of entertainment, and the stimulus packages guaranteeing money in the pockets of the people, the uncertainty and outcomes of such a colossal event cannot be undermined. What will happen to air travel in the future? Will working from home become the norm rather than the exception? What about the long-term effects of social distancing? Will people be more skeptical of each other’s physical presence, making the nuances of social distancing a way of life? Predicting the future is better left to prophets and seasoned economists but as social distancing continues day after day, so does the probability of permanent changes in our society.
For now, the skies are clear, free from much of the pollution and damage we have caused the world through many types of emissions. Although the air is no longer safe to breathe in the company of neighbors and strangers alike, we have managed to couple our often harmful and negligent hand with a helping hand to the environment. It will be tragic to witness a regression back into hazy pollutant filled skies, especially in heavily affected and polluted countries. The return of wildlife to our streets and backyards has been thoroughly pleasant to witness. The countless videos of deer roaming the streets, and ducks and other birds congregating in otherwise dangerous locations has been as heartwarming as it has been a reminder that this world was meant to be shared with other species.
The toppling and cessation of the most fundamental of human activities has affected the entire planet, and some places far more than others. The words “lockdown”, “quarantine”, and “social distancing” will be a part of our vocabulary for years to come. When the tide turns and leaves life with a more familiar rhythm, there will certainly be lasting effects brought on by the pandemic.