I think everybody’s life has been affected by the pandemic. Personally I think the best that could come from it is a major reset to the way things are run.
I get that work is important for people, it can give people a lot in terms of people feeling useful, and that they have a role to play, and it also gives people money which they can exchange for things they need and want.
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I think we are at a pivotal point in human history, this isn’t just about returning to normal. I suspect normal has contributed to the problems we are facing, from homelessness, to mental health problems, to addictions, to pandemics and climate change, to the problems of refugees and asylum seekers. I suspect that the only worthwhile, long term solution is a global green new deal with a much greater emphasis on equality, nationally and globally, living in a sustainable way, using green energy, and not taking more than our fair share.
We hear a lot about the need for money but actually what we need is the stuff that money can buy. People need food and water, shelter and a role in life. Animals are pretty similar. I would like to see an economy run as though people matter, not just some people, all people.
This is not a new idea, it is the idea behind the charity Practical Action, which works in the developing world on locally-based, sustainable solutions. The idea as far as I know was developed by the economist who wrote Small is Beautiful, E. F. Schumacher.
Maybe it is time to think about new work and new homes. Work that has real value, providing everybody with basic healthcare, education, housing, clean, renewable energy, good quality food, and environmentally friendly transport. That’s the basics that everybody needs. Being creative in whatever way people want – that is a bonus. I don’t see why this is not attainable nationally and globally.
We need to start valuing people and the rest of nature, not just money and things. “We need to live simply so that others can simply live,” I think that it is a quote from Ghandi. As David Attenborough said recently we need to step back a bit from our consumerist, capitalist way of life which is not making us happy. As the Cree Indian prophecy said: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.” As John Lennon said in Imagine, “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”
It’s time to get creative. Personally I would like to bring back the prefab, a prefab with a bit of garden for everybody who wanted one. Don’t build on green fields – they are for farming or trees, which we need much more of – build on brownfield sites, like the paintworks in Bristol, which is fabulous. Empty shops and office blocks: fill them up with people.
People are people wherever they come from, whoever they are, let’s start living as though we all matter, not like it’s some sort of race where only a few can get to the good stuff.
All the very best with this campaign and to everybody at The Big Issue for all the good work you do.
Do you have your own big ideas on how we can prevent homelessness and protect jobs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org