by Roxanne Tellier
I’m still marvelling at how much more relaxed the world has become since January 20th. Feels like a luxury, not being on high alert every minute of every day, and I’m loving it.
As the fog of negativity lifts, there’s time to look around and marvel at how much our lives have changed, and will be forever changed, by our experiences. There’s no discounting that the very framework of our lives has been reworked by the ravages of COVID-19. Nearly everyone has lost someone dear to them to the virus, and many who became ill with the disease may have healthcare issues impacting them for the rest of their lives.
We’ve often felt scared and alone, dealing with our concerns. Studies have shown that feeling happy and enjoying life have been associated with longer lifespans, and a reduced incidence of serious illness. Our attitudes define how we treat ourselves and others. COVID-19 greatly impacted our quality of life, and shut a lot of the doors that allowed nearly everyone, regardless of mental or physical health, to seek out healthy encounters and to be part of the cultural mosaic.
The isolation can literally kill us. While some of us are missing our coffees at Starbucks, or our lunches with friends, others are suffering alone in silence, contemplating their own mortality. I worry about those at both ends of the age spectrum, since the very young and the very old are often at the mercy of caretakers who are under great strain themselves.
The times, they are a changing, and more than just our lives have been upheaved; our economy has taken a brutal beating. Many have not been able to work. Tens of thousands of stores have closed. Our major cities will be reshaped as the bone structure created by small business and entrepreneurs fractures due to the loss of investments and opportunity, and is replaced with franchises. Our hospitality industry has been decimated. People in the arts, or those who work in fields that support the arts, have been either unemployed, or underemployed, for nearly a year.
And strangely, the majority of people that continue to work during this time, often against their own better judgment, our ‘essential workers’ who toil in menial jobs that allow the rest of us to continue in relative comfort, are some of the lowest paid workers in the country. Meanwhile, their bosses, some enjoying six and seven figure salaries and bonuses, haven’t left the house in 12 months, and never missed a single paycheck.
Is it time for The Great Reset? That term came from the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, held in June 2020. They were originally more focused on initiating entrepreneurial solutions to handle the problems of climate change and achieve sustainable global development, but as the pandemic has dragged on, and dragged down global economy, the more imperative question has become how to move forward in sectors that have been devastated by the pandemic’s effects.
“The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems –from health and financial to energy and education – are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads, managing short-term pressures against medium- and long-term uncertainties.
As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.” (weforum.org/great-reset/)
This has a lot of people quite concerned, especially those with a vested interest in squashing the idea of a better, brighter, more sustainable future. Within 72 hours of the announcement, a petition to stop it gained 80,000 signatures. A lot of people are very much afraid of not having the status quo to kick around any more – even if that status wasn’t all that quo to begin with.
Those who rail against Big Government, Big Pharma, and the Big Corporations are certain that these ideas are being put into place to either take away people’s money, guns and freedom, or, even more bizarrely, some conspiracy theorists believe that this would signal the beginning of humanity’s enslavement to the Lizard People. (Hard to believe they’d be any worse than trump and his cultists)
So, what does the Great Reset propose we do? Is this the best way forward for the planet, and all of the people who inhabit it? And who are the people that want to design and control the implementation of the plan?
Those that deny that a global pandemic is a cause for alarm are the same cadre who were the climate change deniers of the last decade, who subscribe to the age-old idea that we should just keep on talking about inequality, climate change, and the pandemic, without ever actually doing anything about these problems.
The Great Reset has been championed by global celebrities, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, cellist Yo Yo Ma, andmodel Lily Cole, leading some to believe that these idealists are more interested in their own wish lists of progressive ideas, including a return to an independent media, support for the arts, sustainable architecture and demilitarisation.
But at the core of the Great Reset is the request that every recovery stimulus, fiscal and monetary, ensures an inclusion of Green conditions. The reasoning behind that thinking is that any money tossed at the economy will likely help, at least a little, but why not invest in the planet’s future, rather than simply patch up its current wounds?
If there are to be economic recoveries, the key lies in joining the need to create jobs with the need of most countries to sink more dollars into infrastructure, education, and health care. Creating jobs to further those endeavours puts money into the hands of the workers, who in turn, spend that money on their community and country’s businesses, ultimately making the economy stronger. Everyone’s quality of life thus improves.
The key is ensuring that the jobs being created contribute to the long-term health of the planet, rather than the depletion of scarcening resources.
It’s not surprising that some of the wealthiest people fear losing their ability to plunder the planet, and are calling this agenda, “another example of wealthy, powerful elites salving their consciences with faux efforts to help the masses, and in the process make themselves even wealthier and more powerful.” (Forbes.com)
In Canada, Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre described his idea of what he believes is Justin Trudeau’s approval of the plan.
“Last week, the presumptive finance minister in Erin O’Toole‘s “government-in-waiting” warned that “global financial elites” are attempting to “re-engineer economies and societies” in order to “empower the elites at the expense of the people.” Canadians, he said, “must fight back against global elites” and “their power grab.” He invited those who share his concerns to sign a petition calling on the government to “protect our freedom” and “end plans to impose the ‘Great Reset’.”
That certainly does sound like a frightening scenario. But there are some holes in the plot.
The item that so alarmed the Conservative frontbencher was a clip that circulated online last week of the prime minister speaking at a United Nations conference in September. “This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset,” Justin Trudeau told the conference. “This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts, to re-imagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.” (CBC.ca/politics/ Nov 27, 2020, Aaron Wherry, CBC News)
Oh my yes! How very terrifying it would be to actually address such challenges! There are profits to be made, and profiteers to feed!
Those unable to contemplate change have seized upon a rallying cry attributed to Davos attendees. “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.” Were that the end of the quote, I might find it disturbing as well. But what it actually refers to are changes that are already upon us, and to come, based on actual changes to our needs and priorities.
And the quote came from a series of predictions for what the world might look like in 2030, that was published in November 2016. It accurately noted that for many, especially in cities that ‘work’, there is no need to own a car, a house, or any appliances. All of these are rented, and you can leave them behind when you move on to another location. Products thus become services, not something to own, but to use and discard when their use is no longer necessary.
The other eight predictions include global carbon pricing, a lessening of U.S. dominance, a change in how we interact with health care providers, a move to a diet less reliant on meat, the testing of Western values, and the opening up of practical applications for space technology in order to move humans off Earth, and onto other planets. Much of this has indeed come to pass, just in the five years since the predictions were written.
We often falsely believe that those who have become wealthy through commerce have society’s best interests at heart. But then again, we also used to believe that of our politicians, and certainly we can agree that that is no longer always true.
The Great Reset is merely a proposal; however, it seems more in keeping with the progressive direction that the planet needs to take, post pandemic, in order to ensure not just humanity’s survival, but the survival of our planet. We could do worse than listen to what is in the proposal. We already have.