This week has been a momentous week for all of humanity as the first vaccine against COVID-19 rolls out in the United Kingdom. It is also groundbreaking due to the fact that it was developed within less than a year after the coronavirus first appeared in China.
(Feeling old yet? The first reports of a mysterious pneumonia-inducing virus first trickled in by December of last year. Back then, news outlets were reporting a disease that is highly contagious. Wuhan was soon put on a lockdown to contain this deadly disease that we now know as the COVID-19.)
Now, the vaccine itself marks the end of a dark tunnel which humanity finds itself in this 2020. It ultimately signifies the triumph of collective efforts in containing a disease that is contagious as misinformation itself (another pandemic for 2020).
However, I think we shouldn’t really let our guard down now that vaccines have begun rolling out. Vaccinating as many people as possible is a long and arduous one. Not counting the issue of anti-vaxxers, the process presents a host of innumerable challenges and problems that need to be overcome.
But there’s also one reason which I think is often overlooked: the political power of these “first-world” countries. Simply put, these “first-world” countries simply have more means to strong-arm their way to getting the precious vaccines.
Frankly, COVID-19 vaccines will take a long time to reach as many people as possible. At this point also, we simply don’t know if the vaccine is going to confer long-term immunity against COVID-19.
We can’t go back to what we once were
COVID-19 surely put us on track to a “new” normal. However, many of us — including myself — have been longing for a return to an “old” normal.
The thing is, we can’t go back to what we once were, since the “old” normal that we were living in has major implications for our planet.
The “old” normal, I believe, is marked by rampant consumerism that has put a burden on our planetary resources. Destruction of remaining forests, unchecked pollution and extinction of majestic species, and growing social disparity are the ugly realities that we choose to ignore when the “old” normal is the status quo.
Simply put, our old ways of living are just unsustainable for all of us.
Frankly enough, the pandemic hasn’t caused a radical shift in thinking about our relationship with our planet and our social realities. As a matter of fact, it even worsened some of our ugly ways.
I, for one, is deeply guilty of this: I tried shopping online for the first time (which is wasteful in terms of packaging), was forced to rely more on private transportation, and even shifted to an unhealthy habit of staying up late (which made me consume more carbon footprint).
The pandemic was supposed to be a turning point for changing how we live and think about the world. Except that it didn’t. So, I’m a bit pessimistic about the future after the pandemic. After all, we’re still looking to return to the “old” normal, wanting it like it was the right condition for everyone on this planet.
For now, though, what I can do is to evaluate my lifestyle and ask, “am I living a life that respects the planet and its inhabitants?” Because if not, I would be fooling myself into thinking that I am in a “new” normal when in fact, the “old” normal is still the life I live.