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Connexions Other Voices May 14, 2020: Thinking Clearly in a Time of Crisis

May 14, 2020

The May 14, 2020 issue of Other Voices, the Connexions newsletter, challenges us to think clearly and ask critical questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and what it is teaching us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our world. Many of us feel some degree of disorientation and uncertainty about when and how we will return to some kind of ‘normal’ and what that new normal will look like. Important choices lie ahead, so it is vital that we think clearly, ask questions, discuss with others, and make our voices heard.

One set of questions concern the future course of this pandemic, and how we as a society will live with it. There is little chance that the COVID-19 virus will disappear in the near future. It is highly contagious, and it exists in many different countries around the world, meaning that it almost certainly will continue to spread from one place to another. There are no islands of refuge in a globalized world. So one way or another we have to live with it – and with other pandemics that almost certainly lie in our future.

Other questions concern what we can do to lessen to reduce the circumstances which breed these novel viruses. Industrial agriculture, and livestock operations in particular, are driving the emergence of new and extremely dangerous diseases. The global supply chain spreads them very effectively. The need to change the fundamentals of our economic system is urgent.

Meanwhile our ability to handle outbreaks has been significantly eroded by austerity and cutbacks to health care systems and public health preparedness. This cannot be allowed to continue.

One lesson of this pandemic is that governments, when they decide the need is urgent, can find vast sums of money to spend on critical priorities. The opportunity, and the resources, exist to bring about fundamental change. We need to find the will to do it, and the political power to make it happen.

An article by Ulli Diemer in this issue surveys a number of issues and questions raised by the official response to the pandemic, including problems with modelling the trajectory of the outbreak and with evaluating what kinds of situations pose a high risk for spread, and whad kinds of situations pose a low risk. Diemer argues that the focus on low-risk situations, like people being in parks, coupled with the failure to focus resources on high-risk situations like nursing homes and meat packing plants, led to increased rates of infection and mortality.

Another article points out that sanctions imposed by the United States and its obedient allies, including Canada, indefensible and vicious to begin with, are now tantamount to genocide, as the U.S. blocks imports of vital medical supplies to countries like Iran and Venezuela.

The May 14 issue of Other Voices is online at

Keywords: Pandemics
Disease Control

Bertolt Brecht: Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.

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