By Linda Bordoni
With more than 72,300,000 registered infections and over 1,600,000 deaths globally, the emergency caused by Covid-19 is re-writing the rules in the workplace, in faith-based communities, in family life, in social connections and changing the way we consume goods and services.
Echoed by religious leaders of all denominations, Pope Francis is urging humanity to heal the world by building a more just and sustainable reality for all. The pandemic, he says, is an occasion to change some of the deep-rooted exploitative dynamics that have caused the divisions and the gap between rich and poor, so cruelly highlighted during this difficult year.
Daily news updates meanwhile, tell a story made of so many different facets and perspectives, many of them highlighting the inequality of opportunity and the need to protect the weakest..
Monday morning, headlines revealed that Canada is ready to start its first Covid-19 vaccinations, while Spain, Singapore and the Philippines are gearing up for their vaccination campaigns. Mexico, it appears, will be the first Latin American country and the fourth in the world (after the UK, Bahrain, Canada and the US) to authorize emergency use of one of the just-released vaccines.
The media also reported that the European Union is debating whether to donate 5 per cent of its Covid-19 vaccines to poor nations and that both the UK and the US are assuring the public that politicians will not jump the queue for their inoculation.
Record numbers of deaths
Mostly it’s sad news with record numbers of deaths being reported in many countries including the United States, while the daily toll in Italy is never below a chilling five hundred mark.
That’s why Italy, that already has a 10 pm curfew and strict limitations on the number of people who can share a meal, is to impose new travel restrictions for the holidays and both Ireland and South Korea prepare to increase curbs. Germans can forget their traditional Christmas markets as the nation is ready to go into a hard lockdown over the festive period while citizens in Spain, Russia and the Scandinavian countries will also have to abide by new rules.
Thus, billions of people across the continents will be asked to limit Christmas celebrations, stay home to try and prevent more and more grief, while the economy continues to flounder.
One sad news item that mostly went unnoticed on Monday was that in a poor country like Sierra Leone, families are increasingly marrying off their young daughters to ease finances, thus depriving girls of education and a chance to dream and to hope.
Anxiety & pollution
More generally, a global survey has found that anxiety levels are high, that the demarcation between work and life has all but disappeared, that gaps in inequality and inequity loom large, particularly as the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities, ethnic minorities and women. The environment also continues to suffer as the world has increasingly retreated to plastics and other disposables, making it clear that being sustainable and staying sustainable are not always in sync.