The Societal Impacts of Coronavirus

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On 9/11, Americans discovered we are vulnerable to calamities we thought only happened in distant lands. The 2008 financial crisis told us we also can suffer the calamities of past eras, like the economic meltdown of the Great Depression. Now, the 1918 flu pandemic is a sudden specter in our lives. This loss of innocence, is a new way of being-in-the-world that we can expect to change our doing-in-the-world. We know now that touching things, being with other people and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be risky. How quickly that awareness recedes will be different for different people, but it can never vanish completely for anyone who lived through this year. It could become second nature to recoil from shaking hands or touching our faces—and we might all find we can’t stop washing our hands.

The comfort of being in the presence of others might be replaced by a greater comfort with absence, especially with those we don’t know intimately. Instead of asking, “Is there a reason to do this online?” we’ll be asking, “Is there any good reason to do this in person?”—and might need to be reminded and convinced that there is. The paradox of online communication will be ratcheted up: It creates more distance, yes, but also more connection, as we communicate more often with people who are physically farther and farther away—and who feel safer to us because of that distance.

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America has long equated patriotism with the armed forces. But you can’t shoot a virus. Those on the frontlines against coronavirus aren’t conscripts, mercenaries or enlisted men; they are our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store clerks, utility workers, small-business owners and employees. Like Li Wenliang and the doctors of Wuhan, many are suddenly saddled with unfathomable tasks, compounded by an increased risk of contamination and death they never signed up for. We will give them guaranteed health benefits and corporate discounts, and build statues and have holidays for this new class of people who sacrifice their health and their lives for ours. Perhaps, too, we will finally start to understand patriotism more as cultivating the health and life of your community, rather than blowing up someone else’s community.

Maybe the demilitarization of American patriotism and love of community will be one of the benefits to come out of this whole awful mess. Not only that, this “common enemy” scenario, in which people begin to look past their differences when faced with a shared external threat. COVID-19 is presenting us with a formidable enemy that will not distinguish between reds and blues, and might provide us with fusion-like energy and a singularity of purpose to help us reset and regroup. Societal shocks can break different ways, making things better or worse. But given our current levels of tension, this scenario suggests that now is the time to begin to promote more constructive patterns in our cultural and political discourse. The time for change is clearly ripening. One group of Americans has lived through a transformational epidemic in recent memory: gay men.

Of course, HIV/AIDS was (and is) different in all kinds of ways from coronavirus, but one lesson is likely to apply: Plagues drive change. Partly because our government failed us, gay Americans mobilized to build organizations, networks and know-how that changed our place in society and have enduring legacies today. The epidemic also revealed deadly flaws in the healthcare system, and it awakened us to the need for the protection of marriage—revelations which led to landmark reforms. People are finding new ways to connect and support each other in adversity; they are sure to demand major changes in the health-care system and maybe also the government; and they’ll become newly conscious of interdependency and communi

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The Societal Impacts of Coronavirus. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-societal-impacts-of-coronavirus/
“The Societal Impacts of Coronavirus.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-societal-impacts-of-coronavirus/
The Societal Impacts of Coronavirus. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-societal-impacts-of-coronavirus/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
The Societal Impacts of Coronavirus [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-societal-impacts-of-coronavirus/
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