The coronavirus pandemic that is still spreading around the world is calling us to rethink our way of life. The containment that was imposed in many countries during the last months in order to protect populations from the pandemic was an experience that taught us that we could live differently, perhaps with less consumerism. It also showed us that we could work differently, in particular using teleworking. It has reminded us of the basics. And we have seen in a very short period of time many benefic signs: the pollution of the air dropped, the waters became cleaner, some animals reappeared in different places – rivers, gulfs, harbors, forests and even cities. Nature had regained its rights. This showed us that we could easily do something to save the natural environment from the threat of the ecological crisis, and especially the global warming.
Unfortunately, this did not last for long. While Europeans slowly break out of containment and quarantine, and intend to go back to regular life, although the threat of a second wave is still on the horizon, it seems that the temptation to forget about new resolutions is very strong. Pollution instantly reappeared, and people are in a hurry to get back to their old habits of consumerism and travelling. Prevention standards in link of the pandemic are easily forgotten or violated. In America, where the pandemic is still very strong, President Donald Trump even encourages the USA to go once more on the moon in order to mine it for minerals. Meanwhile, protests and demonstrations are bursting worldwide following the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died during an arrest by the police last May, reminding us that racism has not completely disappeared from the earth.
The world might also experience other protests and demonstrations as a result of the economic crisis that is arising as a consequence of the pandemic. Indeed, economists think that the upcoming economic crisis will go far beyond the magnitude of the 2008 financial crisis. One could have expected that the world would learn a lesson from the pandemic and try to rethink the world of after, but it seems on the contrary that many prefer just to return to the world of before. Often, decisions related to the crisis management are dictated by old economic standards.
The lesson that should be learned from the pandemic is that the world needs a complete change in our lifestyle in order to preserve the natural environment. The pandemic inevitably questioned our relationship with nature. At the origin of the coronavirus, we find in China a traffic of animals. Why and how was it transmitted to humans? The destruction of the animal’s habitat, or trafficking, which is caused by humans, accelerates the process of transmission. Thus, human misuse of nature provoked the pandemic, so it had provoked the ecological crisis. The world is also in need of new economic models. These should also be reconsidered in order that our societies may survive. There is an urgent need for transformation, and not merely of compensation for the losses due to the pandemic and a passive desire to return to the previous situation.
The world of tomorrow must not look like the world before only in worse. It must take into consideration what we have experienced so far during the pandemic and make the relevant conclusions. Humanity used to believe to have the best technological knowledge, to be the richest, the most intelligent, however, faced with the coronavirus, it discovered all of a sudden its weaknesses. In order to change our way of life, the prophetic voice of the Church is more than needed in order to remind the citizens of the world about the values of solidarity, philanthropy, moderation, sobriety, thanksgiving, justice and peace. In this context, the World Council of Churches’ pilgrimage of justice and peace sounds actual more than ever.