Setting one thing straight; ‘there is and will be no going back to normal’
People from abroad ask me lately how it is to be ‘back to normal’ in Beijing after the lockdown ?
A little introduction
First of all we have not witnessed a strict lockdown here in Beijing such as in Wuhan, Hubei province, some other cities in China e.g. Hangzhou or even in Lombardy or Paris and Madrid.
Even though we have not been forced to stay at home since the beginning, public life had been minimized in Beijing and we have resiliently stayed inside most of the time for own safety, minimizing the risk of further outbreak and in solidarity with the people fighting at the battle field. We have been subject to intense measure and data organisations to provide a bigger picture of the pandemic and virus, both through on-site checks of temperature and whereabouts and through high-tech with apps checking your whereabouts in relation to possible infections or drones checking your temperature.
Latest measures are slowly easing with business, retail and public places cautiously opening up again but people remain very careful and alert, and families are knitted with children remaining at home as schools are being kept closed until further notice.
This careful easing up will naturally raise the question by others ‘how is life in Beijing being back to normal ?’. Well, let us get one thing straight; there is or will be no going back to normal in Beijing or any other place in the world due to the following 4 circumstances.
4 circumstances which are closing doors for going back to normal
1- Human psychology : the Pause-and-Reflect Button
The pause-and-reflect button has changed people’s thoughts and behaviors with new lifestyles, needs and mindsets all over the world. Why would people anywhere long for traffic jams, pollution and stressful rat races in current economic models ?
Resistance to change and adaptation would long for “the good, old times” in a first instant but this desire will (and should) not last. The human behavioral change might be mistakenly underrated but it will be a prime force from bottom-up towards a new normal.
2- Transforming societies : High-tech breaking grounds
Technology has been breaking grounds in societies all over the world since the pandemic to assist humanity in the virus outbreak. High-tech and Big Data will be here to stay and rapidly breaking more grounds and transforming societies all over the world in the near time with more severe battles for humanity coming up (see below).
It will be not be a question if humanity accepts the technology but about how to manage technology implementations in a positive new normal as one humanity all over the world.
3 - The worse battle still to come : Economic Hardship
While people are hoping for a soon victory on the coronavirus, the worst sacrifice is still to come; the global economic hardship in which people, societies and governments need to be pro-active to battle, instead of being defensive and passive now during the pandemic.
The global economic disaster will demand so much more from people to sacrifice, adapt and raising questions, considerations and consciousness about pre-corona lifestyles and economic models.
4 - Humanity : the Naked Truth coming out
The naked truth of the pandemic is that humanity is outright miserable and failing to fight and sacrifice together as one humanity in solidarity. On the contrary; ‘tribes’ (countries, societies, races, people) are drifting apart with politicizing the outbreak and straightforward blaming and harassing each other, often with narcissism.
Fueled by mainstream and social media, we have all witnessed through media or personally mass-activation of racial, national, political or economical biases by people and tribes towards others, physical attacks and verbal abuse in recent months.
These things will certainly not be forgotten and have a major impact for a long time; geopolitics and international communities will not be the same in a post-corona era.
How could the post-corona era look like ?
I am not going to speculate here about different alternatives or pretending to have the right march forward in mind but following considerations should be clearly kept in mind during coming time ;
The coronavirus is drastically shaking humanity and its role on Mother Earth since recent months. Naked truths are coming out, different people and tribes are pushed to corners, baring and unfolding primal instincts and cognitive biases as the pandemic does not allow people to take time anymore for diplomatic or political considerations.
The coronavirus is certainly happy with the miserable disaster how humanity is tackling the pandemic as they waste a lot of time tackling each other without a unified battle strategy with shared resources as one humanity.
People do close but should not close their eyes to the symptoms and changes appearing in front of us during the pandemic which unconditionally demands a trustful, transparent, respectful and equal collaboration of mankind all over the world.
This collaboration of mankind requires a huge and unprecedented effort by humanity to organize themselves as one determined species for survival, equality and harmony. Unprecedented efforts in mutual solidarity, sacrifice, adaptation, cross-cultural intelligence, co-existence, acceptance and respect with the objective to settle on synergistic common grounds which affect all of us worldwide.
One might claim that these demands for humanity are exaggerated for this pandemic. But the coronavirus is just a ‘small’ trigger for testing humanity in which ‘only’ a unified and solidary defense against a common enemy is needed.
In a natural sense, it would be expected that a common enemy would bring humanity together in defense but paradoxically the common enemy is rapidly exposing the vulnerability and weakness of humanity.
The real battles are laying in front of us; economic hardship and transformation while the environment is also knocking on the doors of humanity demanding full sustainability and respect with immediate notice.
As people are not even being able to handle the pandemic efficiently as one species, being drifted apart with senses of hostility and separation, how can we expect being able to handle future bigger battles in which humanity needs to be pro-active towards themselves as one instead of being defensive against a common enemy.
Economic hardships, changing geopolitical perspectives, tribe decoupling with short term, politically and economically selfish visions and narcissism, senses of hostility and racism are symptoms which humanity has seen before on similar crash roads in history leading to unimaginable man-made disasters against themselves.
Yes, we are talking about the possibility of war here, and to be clear not about a trade war.
People seem to forget history subconsciously, hide their fear for the worst by telling it is not too bad and this can never happen to us humans today. But today’s symptoms are stronger than ever having been in similar historical crash roads which had lead to man-sparked human disasters.
It only takes a little spark by the size of a match.
Ok this for the worst case thoughts. I think it is very important that the word war is being spoken out as it is a reality looking at human history and today’s symptoms. Talking and communicating with each other about the possibility and danger of war might decrease the risk and enhance the chances of collaboration. International media and politicizing entities are bashing around about all the symptoms but discussing the possible outcomes are carefully avoided.
How could we create a better post-corona era than the old world?
Collaboration, collaboration... and more collaboration with mutual solidarity, understanding, respect and acceptance in a peaceful co-existence. People, governments and societies need to change drastically and adapt to a new world where environment is being respected, basic human rights are being respected (as laid upon in UDHR), and different cultures within the framework are being respected. Cross-cultural competence and Social Intelligence.
Crucially important is being able and human to support and sacrifice for others without conditions but solely for the strength and respect of being human.
If this would not be possible and no more true inspirational and respected leadership would pop up within the current traditional configuration of national governments and international global agencies, people should be looking into developing new ecosystems with possible new economic and sustainable processes and social environments.
This can either go in harmony with traditional borders or otherwise some traditional borders might become irrelevant in time.
There is no going back to normal ! And we should not want to go back to normal.
Immense challenges with immense opportunities and risks are laying ahead of humanity. Not very far away.
It is up to us whether to make the world a better place as a whole but it requires drastic change and adaptation from all of us. And unconditional mutual solidarity and sacrifice to tackle the virus and more radically after the economic hardship (with possibly changing disrupting models for more equality and poverty reduction) and the environmental degradation as this is not a pandemic curve but a straight line moving fast and steep downwards, dragging humanity down into it.
Challenging times ahead….. Are we up for this ??
杜墨 Gordon Dumoulin
Beijing, April 2020
'Reboot and critical update for 20th century humanity in the 21th century world'
REBOOT Humanity | Critical update 2020 (RHC) is a think tank initiative aiming to raise questions and considerations from a pure humanity perspective. Independent from currently embedded systems, processes, cultures or politics, RHC is looking into the human intelligence software which is all about economic and social processes, cross-cultural competences and the role and compatibility of humanity in relation to the hardware; among others the environment and technology.
Recent developments in past decades such as environmental degradation and economic and social tensions with even more recently the effects of the coronavirus pandemic impact on humanity is raising the need for a reboot and critical updates of the software running humanity.