COVID-19 is an opportunity for change

An editorial for the Barriere Star / Journal

Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. We saw that during the McLure Wildfire of 2003, when neighbours helped neighbours and multiple agencies gave generously to rebuild Louis Creek and other communities. At the same time, scam artists arrived to claim residence in the Valley and to collect benefits.

Today we see similar things happening with the Covid-19 crisis, but on a much larger scale.

One of the more disappointing and even dangerous aspects has been people buying up and hoarding important resources.

Stocking up to have a supply of essentials to last through a crisis is legitimate and prudent (although it is best done ahead of time).

Bulk buying during a crisis in the expectation there will be a shortage and that those essentials can then be sold at a profit is not.

If enough people think the same way then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A shortage is created where none existed before, prices go up, and those who created the shortage get rich.

Those who have lost their jobs or who otherwise don’t have an adequate supply of money have to do without.

People having to do without toilet paper is a bit amusing. People having to do without food is not.

Fortunately, the stores and in some cases the governments are stepping in to restrict the practice but it does show there are weaknesses in our systems for dealing with a crisis such as Covid-19.

Another shortcoming has been the wealth of misinformation, disinformation and outright lies about the pandemic on the Internet.

Why do some people feel obliged to make statements about something they know nothing about? Why do they repeat posts by others who are likewise ignorant? The social media companies need to develop methods so that users can filter out the nonsense. Perhaps the approach used by Wikipedia could be used.

A major crisis is often a major turning point in history. People judge their leaders on how well they respond. Some become heroes, others villains.

The whole world is in the same boat with Covid-19. It will be interesting to compare how the different political, economic and cultural systems are judged following the crisis.

There will be changes. Let’s hope they will be for the better.


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