The easing of restrictions and the post coronavirus period leads us to wonder how COVID-19 will change our lives. Our vision of health, lifestyle and society have probably evolved for most of us.
A weird coincidence: the first article I wrote in my blog was called “How I caught the travel virus”, and now here we are, unable to travel due to the new Coronavirus.
I wrote that first article to make my readers understand why it was so important for me to travel and how I ended up making it a way of life, being an expat in many countries including Spain and Ireland.
Fast forward, I got redundant in 2018 and I thought of what I wanted to bring to the world.
Travel isn’t always a panacea. I used to hate it when I had to travel for work because I was frustrated to not be able to enjoy the places I went to. Although I have learnt to enjoy business trips after many years of experience.
Then, as I lived in Spain, and went back to my mother’s island, Madagascar, after more than a decade, I saw the damage the travel industry has done to our coastlines and it made me think of the importance of travelling responsibly.
At the end of this journey, I came to realize that travel was important, yes, but not at any costs as Greenpeace explains.
And these days, more than ever, many people have come to the realization that what truly matters is our health, which is determined by the well-being of our planet, as I explained in this blog post.
And little by little, I started a project around this topic: Health of the living beings on Planet Earth.
This goes way further than just travel. But travel is my way of tackling this broader issue that is climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
Because I have fallen so much in love with every corner of the world that I have visited, that protecting it became a mission. And that’s why I started this broader project, that I will soon expand to a whole lifestyle and probably a new website. But World Travel Able is the core. It’s what drives me. It’s where everything started…
So obviously, the novel Coronavirus Covid-19 has hit us very hard, in every way. Travel and health, the 2 things that matter the most to me, have been the first two areas to suffer from it.
And that made me think a lot about various topics I wanted to share with you and hope that you will also give your opinion about.
Challenges pre and post Coronavirus
One thing is for sure: all the challenges and consequences the COVID-19 is bringing to our life are going to have an impact.
So here is some food for thought from various aspects of our society.
A healthcare challenge
When you have had a chronic illness since childhood, you learn very early how precious your health is. You realize how important every part of your body is for you to function.
So it was important for me that the health and well being of those with invisible illnesses could be taken into consideration, too. And that starts with awareness.
When you talk about disability, people (including me) always picture a wheelchair first.
However, did you know that 2% of the handicapped people need a wheelchair 24/7?
Yes, there are many handicaps out there that are invisible, and we might look at people standing up from a wheelchair like they don’t need it, but not thinking that this person can actually only handle a few minutes standing up.
The same thing happens with Covid-19: it’s invisible, at the beginning. You may have it and not even know it.
It’s a tragedy because that’s probably why it spreads so badly. But I hope people understand now that an illness is not always visible.
I am very sensitive about health issues, also because I have learnt important lessons while travelling, like last year in South Korea, where sick people always wear a mask.
So what are we learning from Covid-19? We realize that health is more important than anything else. More important than the economy, politics, and even more than freedom, as we mostly accept the lockdown.
We also learn that health should not be taken for granted. That life is short, and that in just a few days, you can lose a dear friend or family member, which is why, I think, we are willing to make this lockdown sacrifice.
But we also learn that we are now paying for our poor political choices.
When a country has sold its healthcare as a good, instead of taking care of it as a national necessity, we pay the price… Hospitals should never be run as businesses, but as services providing basic needs for citizens.
Political impacts post Coronavirus?
So here we are, finger-pointing, that decisions were bad, that our government lacks leadership, that they are lying to us, infantilizing us, and some even think that they take advantage of this situation to control us further.
Nothing in life is black or white, nothing is that simple. But it is true that most of our governments didn’t play the role we were expecting them to.
At the same time, we can’t summarize it to one government.
Take Spain for example, where I live for over a decade now. I believe the lockdown could have been avoided if we had locked down the right people in the first place.
If we had enough masks and tests, we could have handled the situation in a completely different way.
From zero action to the deprivation of freedom
Then it was way too late. So the only option was the lockdown… But that also came late…
We handled the situation poorly, like most of the other countries.
Then we made a “semi lockdown” and many of us were still forced to go to work, exposing ourselves to the virus every day in offices where there were definitely not six feet between desks, at least in my case. Not even one metre. And six feet is closer to two metres and it’s what’s recommended by most epidemiologists.
A partial lockdown didn’t make any sense to me at this stage.
Lack of leadership = lack of preparation
Days before, we let football matches between Spain and Italy be held, even though we already knew about the outbreak there.
We kept flying to China, and today we point the finger at China for not being transparent. Really? Since when is China supposed to be transparent? What about taking precautions, having that knowledge about this country?
Then there was this whole lack of preparation to start with.
As a matter of fact, I know that the Obama administration’s preparations for a pandemic in the US have been ignored by the Trump administration.
The same thing happened in my own country – France – where in 2009 the then Health Minister applied very strict measures during the H1N1 outbreak and was mocked for this, and now Macron’s government has basically lied to the French citizens.
We ended up with a lack of medical protection among hospital staff, but also for second-line workers like truck drivers, supermarket staff and cleaners, and so on.
So yes, I can understand why people are mad at the government. But if you look at Spain where I live for instance, who is responsible for the lack of beds and hospital staff in the first place?
It would be too simplistic to pile the blame on the ones who are in power now. Because the truth is, the other parties before them are no better. And we pay the consequences for poor management of the healthcare system.
Have a look at that chart and you will see that Germany has the highest number of ICU beds in Europe compared to my home country France and the country where I live, Spain.
I think our society is beginning to understand the value of our healthcare workers, our hospitals and the suppliers of the food chain, from farmers to the store staff.
Consequences of COVID-19 on the global economy
When you read those articles I shared with you earlier about the lack of preparation, you realize that we are dependent on China, because globalisation is our model.
Our models, doomed to fail or prosper?
If you look at the fashion industry, for example, most of the clothes you buy are made in Asia, and now we even have Chinese factories emerging in Africa because labour is cheaper there.
Saving money for our stakeholders, making more profit, buying cheap. That’s been our model.
Is it a bad thing? Some argue we are helping poorer countries to develop… But at what cost?
On the other hand, it is easy for people who earn a decent salary to criticize others who struggle financially and who can afford to buy only those products made in China or Bangladesh.
So, at the end of the day, it’s a political decision. Even with the will to buy more responsibly, it’s not that easy for low-income families.
So we made a choice, as a society, to be interdependent. And we see the disaster it has brought when it comes to sanitary needs, like the lack of medicine or protective gear, like masks, as we totally depend on China.
Maybe we should ask ourselves now and after the coronavirus pandemic if local production is not only better for the environment, but also is it necessary?
Consequences of the Coronavirus on Travel
As of my dear travel industry, it’s the word “industry” that doesn’t resonate with me anymore.
I love travelling: it’s my passion. If you have ended up on my blog and are reading this article, it’s probably one of yours too.
But should we really travel as before?
Isn’t it time we reflect on our travel habits?
Again, less is more.
Our carbon footprint is huge when we fly, but I don’t subscribe to flight shaming because it’s too simplistic.
But it’s true that we travel way too much. Some of our trips make no sense.
That’s why since last year I have concentrated my efforts into slow travel and responsible travel.
This is the future. If we only have a weekend, why do we need to go so far? Can’t we just take a train or a bus and go somewhere nearby to enjoy a change of atmosphere if that’s what we need?
When we take a long-haul flight, why don’t we try to stay for longer so we can enjoy the place, get to know the culture and the people, and have an immersive experience?
I think the post coronavirus period is an opportunity to re-think travel.
In the last couple of years, my long-haul trips in places have been only to places where I have friends and family, like Madagascar and South Korea.
I have travelled with a purpose and have tried to take 3 weeks for each trip as my employer would not allow me more time. If it were up to me I would take a full month. And that’s what I would advise. That’s also why I became an expat. So that I could fully enjoy a country where I live like Spain.
Can we learn from our mistakes?
So what are our governments going to do from now on?
The way they up the cash to save businesses says it all.
French Finance Minister, Bruno Lemaire, decided to help the most polluting industries, no strings attached.
It may have been the chance to rethink our priorities.
If the Coronavirus has been the worst world crisis in decades, a much bigger one is on the way and this terrible illness should help us review our priorities.
What are the businesses we want to save?
How do we help and reconvert our economy in a positive way post-Coronavirus?
Or do we want to go back to business as usual, ignoring the challenges of climate change now and still to come?
An opportunity post-Coronavirus lockdown?
Yes, this crisis, if handled properly, can be an opportunity to choose a different path.
A path where we will value health over money, where we will understand that hospitals are essentials and where we should be prepared to be self-sufficient and not always depending on others to handle a crisis.
It’s also a humbling experience. We finally see that we can’t control everything and we need to stay open-minded.
When you don’t know something, you need to be very careful and receptive.
We have made this mistake so many times. With COVID-19 , we have called it a minor flu, while China was closing down a city as populated as France. It didn’t make sense. Our governments and many of us decided to ignore that fact. Now we will have to pay the consequences for handling the situation poorly.
I think the best video that explains how incongruous our governments were during this crisis is from the great Adley Stump.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it will make you laugh for sure! And laughing is great to release stress and improve your immune system, so do it!
The same thing happened with nuclear energy. We saw the positive side in it and decided to go ahead boldly with it, playing down the consequences and problems arising from toxic and radioactive wastes.
We decided to stock it now and see later how to deal with it.
It should not work like that.
When we make a decision, we need to listen to the pros and cons, we need to be very careful before rolling it out nationwide.
We have a similar thing happening with wind energy.
There have been many documentaries showing the harm it can make.
The truth is, we should understand that technology needs more energy, and the more energy we need, the more we will consume, and we will always have to rely on polluting options like coal or gas as long as the renewable energy isn’t performing as well.
And something we often forget: even renewable energy is polluting. How do you think solar panels are made? They require precious materials only found in some regions of the world that can be problematic to access, which can lead to war zones and pollution in those areas if not controlled properly.
So maybe it’s time to rethink our consumption model post-Coronavirus. It’s time to SAVE energy. Not only replace it and then consume more of it with ultra-tech AI hyper-connected 5G tools that need an awful amount of it to power it. We need more sobriety.
- What if we could go low tech instead of high tech?
- What if we could go local instead of global to save on transport costs?
That’s the big opportunity now. Where do we want to invest the public money?
I’m very saddened to see that car demand has spiked as people are looking for safety, the same way I am saddened to see gloves and masks strewn in the streets…
We have signed the Paris agreements in 2015. It’s been a while and we always had the excuse that it was too difficult to make the change. What if now was the right time?
What are our priorities post-COVID -19?
So, in the end, it all comes to this question: what are our priorities?
During the lockdown, only essential businesses and movements were allowed.
We quickly realized that health, food and transport were essential needs.
I have also realized for my own health, both mental and physical, contact with people is important. Relationships are important, especially friendship and family.
Now the next challenge is freedom. We realized how difficult it was to be locked down. A humbling lesson too because we find out what it means to lose our freedoms. One of the western world’s basic rights… The book I read about Nelson Mandela about his time in jail – several years ago – inspired me.
His condition was much worse, like many prisoners. We were lucky to be home, free. Although not allowed out. But definitely I felt free in my mind. And I want to keep it that way.
However freedom took on a new meaning for me, we had taken it for granted, and it’s definitely a priority we need to keep. That’s why we need to work together as a community to find solutions that have the least possible impact on our freedom and still keep us safe and healthy. It’s a real challenge. But it requires a public debate and a vote, unlike what the French government wants to do, which is only planning the debate, but not the vote… What a shame for the country of Liberté, Egalité Fraternité…
Respecting each other is important too. This is a priority especially right now in this context.
As I explained in an Instagram post in December, I wore a mask when I got the flu and people looked at me like I was a weirdo.
My trips to Japan and South Korea taught me this important lesson. It’s a question of respect to wear a mask when you are sick because you protect others from your germs.
It’s also important to respect your body. When you are sick, it’s a sign that something is not going well. It is an alarm telling your body you need to take a break.
And what do we do in our society? We go to work anyway, take a strong medicine that says you won’t feel sick anymore. What a mascarade! No, don’t ignore those symptoms. No matter how mild they are.
If you are getting sick, stay home. People want to impress their colleagues and bosses to prove they are super committed to their jobs, no matter if their body is complaining.
I have learnt this the hard way, as I have already shared with you in a previous post.
We need to respect our bodies. When we are tired, we need to slow down. And you know what, I know someone who is doing that. Even with mild flu-like symptoms, he didn’t go to work. And guess what? He recovered in 2 days, instead of the usual week or 2. Why? Because he listened to his body and slept a lot for 2 days, rested, and did whatever his body was requiring him to do.
It’s been an inspiration to me, who had difficulty slowing down.
And finally, respect the planet and all living on it. From plants, insects to animals.
We want to rule the world, exploit the earth to create goods.
I think we have just got it all wrong. We have to learn from each other and reconnect with the planet.
She provides us with everything we need if we are humble enough to learn from her.
Animals are also teaching important lessons on how they operate, collaborating and respecting their environment. Plants are also teaching us great lessons when you observe forests.
To me, the key is in the balance.
We have to stop abusing, stop acting like spoilt kids and understand that if we respect the Earth and all life, we will live better than if we exploit it.
I really hope that this is something that more and more people have come to understand during this very special moment of reflection.
As I explained in my previous post about the coronavirus and the lockdown, we have to understand the lesson from this tragedy, otherwise, everything has been in vain.
Once we have decided what our priorities are, we have to concentrate on the role of our democracy as:
- an entrepreneur
- a consumer
- a voter
Something has become very clear in many countries like France and Spain. It’s the people who managed the situation. Not the governments alone. They couldn’t handle it properly.
They were not cautious enough, they didn’t listen to past leaders, and they thought our countries were superior to China or Italy, minimizing their health systems to justify the number of deaths. It’s a pity, and we won’t forget. And we all know about it now. But what can we do now?
What we have to understand is that each of us had a real impact, from the nurse to the supermarket clerk or the lady who is driving a truck to bring the food to our cities.
Those people had to work in bad conditions to be able to tend to all our needs.
On the flip side, there was a huge community feeling with plenty of people willing to help in different ways, including offering to create products that hospitals workers lacked, like masks.
What do I mean by that? I mean we need to take the power back into our own hands.
It’s not enough to vote. It’s important to be participating in our social life one way or another.
That’s why, if as an entrepreneur you have a business idea that might help society, and it’s a passion of yours, go for it!
When you spend your money, try to choose wisely where you spend it.
If we – consumers – make certain choices, the big multinationals will have to adapt. If we refuse to accept certain things anymore like plastics, they will have to find a solution to sell their goods, or we will end up boycotting them as many did with Coca Cola who is trying greenwashing methods to persuade people that they recycle their bottles.
That’s why it is also important to be well informed so that we don’t believe anything big corporations tell us. In that same example, Coca Cola is recycling but recycling plastic can never be as efficient as other materials like glass. And the main reason is cost savings. Some countries were still recently selling Coke in glass bottles but Coca Cola decided to change to plastic bottles recently… What a shame!
We have to keep ourselves very well informed, listen to various opinions to make our own, be aware of corruption and lobbies.
We have seen over and over again how we were lied to.
I started to get really concerned with hydraulic fracking which shows in this article that the FDA was taking advice from people who had a conflict of interest.
What about pesticides? BPA in plastic? Meat? Everything! We need to be very careful when we read information. Especially when it comes to our health. Where does the information come from? Who is talking? Is there a possible conflict of interest? Are they telling us the truth? Are they hiding something? We need to take a more responsible approach when consuming information.
Our health is on the line, our future on Planet Earth too.
If you have followed me for a while now, you know I am working on a bigger project about this exact topic. If you are interested in your health and realize it is also connected to the health of our environment, join our movement!
Stay tuned, and help us grow the community by sharing our articles!
We also want to hear from you, so if you have other ideas on how we could reshape our priorities post coronavirus, we would love to know in your comments below!