“Is our world going to change ?”

Dans le cadre de leur cours d’anglais avec Mme Benzoni, les élèves de rhétos ont chacun rédigé une dissertation sur la crise du coronavirus. Il s’agissait de réfléchir à la crise et d’écrire un texte sur un aspect de celle-ci qui leur tenait à cœur. Ci-dessous, vous pourrez découvrir l’un de ces travaux. Bonne lecture.

Is our world going to change ?

In this crisis, many people tend to say that “the world is going to change”. And what most of them mean is “Coronavirus is going to make our world better”. It means a drastic change, a modification of the very basis of our way of living, leading to less pollution (fewer cars, a decrease in excessive consumption, in the destruction of our environment,…), fewer social inequalities between people all over the world (people starving, wars fuelled by money,…) and more simplicity, less stress in our everyday life. It would be nice, the best-case scenario, but there are impediments, possible obstacles that could keep these alterations from happening. So we must ask ourselves some questions.

The first possibility would be that the world would change by itself. Of course, humanity is a part of it, but let us consider a kind of spontaneous adjustment, happening without needing a real will from anyone. For example, it would be the case if Coronavirus killed so many people that it solved overpopulation. This would imply fewer people on Earth, so less pollution. It could also limit mass consumption by bringing about a sizable economic crisis, compelling us to buy only household necessities with our reduced resources. This is only a quick sketch that I imagined but somebody must have thought of a similar theory.

Well, the problem with this is, as it appears clearly, that it implies massive deaths and regression to get to that significant effect. And unless you are a big purple villain from a Marvel movie, having a big part of a civilization killed is NOT a best-case scenario. And of course, if fifty percent of humanity dies, we may very well guess that the damage will not be fairly spread among all the countries and social classes. The most decimated populations would be the poor and fragile ones.

Plus, as the change would be brutal and non-consensual, people would do anything to get out of it and come back to normal, they would not consider the results of such a catastrophe beneficial.

They would also be temporary, because an economic crisis does not last forever, and the economy usually tends instead to recover after a crisis.

If spontaneous change is this disrupting and damaging, then there is maybe another way. And it would come from the people and their will to change. Many ones in quarantine are learning to make food, clothes and some other things by themselves. They also have more time to think and we all know somebody who said something like “after the quarantine, I’m going to have another life, make my own bread, buy fewer useless things, eat local products,…”. Well this is fine because they have a firm attitude, they really are convinced that it is the best they can do.

There are many questions that ensue from this phenomenon. The first one is: “Are people ready for this?”. And the answer is no and yes all at once. No because not everybody can be a hundred percent ready for big changes such as this. Because nobody can be sure or even guess how things will turn out. But yes is also correct because as nobody is ever ready, change can happen (and has already happened more than once in History) without humanity being totally ready.

We can also ask ourselves if people really want to change. Of course, there are the ones who clearly express this intention, but we will come back to them a bit later. Let us focus on the ones who prefer the world and society to stay the same. And there are plenty of them. Let us mention the ones owning big companies (who benefit from globalisation), scientists (who benefit from new technologies), and all the people who are happy with the society they live in because they profit from our current system. And most of them have a decision-making status. Or more precisely, they are dominant in decision-making bodies. I am not saying that this is good or bad, just that society cannot change without them.

But about the people willing to modify their way of living, there are still two questions. Do they know what it implies and are they actually able to change? We are used to living with so many things that make our life easier that we do not even know what we would have to give up. Going to work or school with a car, having laptops and cell phones, electricity everywhere, travelling, having perfect-looking vegetables and fruits, living for 90 years, … And in my opinion, people thinking we do not have to give up that much are stargazers: making our own dishwasher tablets is cute but far from enough.

Who is really able to say no to technology in the long run? Some are, but they are few and far between.

So, is Covid-19 going to make, one way or another, our world better or at least change it? It will change it, but the world has always changed, and always in a “natural”, progressive and slow way. If we wanted the virus and the quarantine to be instruments of change, the pandemic would have to last way longer and be far more shattering. And even this way, nobody knows if the improvements would last. There is no quick fix.

Flore, 6C