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COVID-19 and The Pursuit of a Decent Society

After a tumultuous year due to Coronavirus pandemic, which created an unprecedented crisis in public health and mayhem in the global economy, the world had hoped for a respite and a positive change in 2021.

Alas, the first weeks of the new year have left us more worried than before, with the virus mutating unpredictably and spreading at even faster rates, ushering the pandemic into a new dangerous level in many countries.

📚 Read Also: COVID 19: How Islamic Financial Instruments Can Help

January 5th saw UK daily coronavirus cases topping 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic first began in early 2020. Much of the UK has now entered into a new lockdown to contain the spread which has propelled Britain towards the top of the death count table despite its status as one of the most developed countries in the world.

The virus may be agnostic to who is infected, but the poor and BAME communities, who often do not have the luxury to work from home in their menial jobs, and those on the front lines have been suffering disproportionately.

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The Tory government drew global criticism for its handling of the first wave of the disease. With the toxic political quandary of Brexit now over, it is now hoped that the government brings its act together to halt the massive surge in cases and deaths, which show no sign of abating despite stricter controls imposed just before Christmas.

Whilst there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the national rollout of multiple vaccines providing a glimmer of hope, there is no time to be complacent. The Government must avoid repeating the mistakes made in 2020 through clear decision making, strong and consistent messaging and better planning.

Our changing world

The global reach of the coronavirus is changing the way we live, think and act. These are times of chaos and uncertainty with conspiration theories abound. Many find the situation threatening and are fearful for their futures.

At the same time, the world is also going through a seismic change with political fractures, nationalistic populism and racial and religious bigotry all rearing its ugly head in recent years. The economic disparity between the rich and poor is ever widening; the richest 1% in the UK have almost a quarter of the wealth; a statistic sadly replicated across many countries.

The pandemic has laid bare many of the problems, some obvious and some hidden, in our societies. It is difficult to determine the long-term effects and when, or if, life will be normal again. Whilst the economic slowdown may have lessened the effects of climate change through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, it has also brought widespread job losses and threatened the livelihood of millions.

We need tolerant and more decent societies

While governments have the ability to influence society through wielding their political and economic power, common people also have strong roles and responsibilities to play to create decent societies, including;

1. Carrying out civic duties as individuals and family members in the neighbourhood and community, and in the wider arena through their professions and civic activism to create, sustain and defend a robust and decent society for the benefit of all.

2. Keeping a close eye on political leaders and taking them to account to ensure they serve people from all backgrounds; as public servants they are in their position as a privilege, not as a right.

In a decent society, all are included and have obligations to serve the country irrespective of backgrounds. We all carry multiple identities – national, ethnic, faith or no faith, profession and so on. Genuine inclusion of all people brings about positive values and leads to a shared national prosperity.

Given the challenging times we are in and the detestable events often taking place around the world, do we as Britons have the courage to work for a better, more decent, society?

Can we work for social healing with empathy for one another, especially following the fractured politics and divisions since the Brexit referendum?

Easier said than done! But, Covid-19 has proved, that in our most desperate times, the overwhelming majority will work tirelessly to support one another out of common decency and humanity. The values of community life and the need to build strong systems of mutual support are basic principles that connect all of us, including minorities such as BAME or Muslim, as fellow citizens.

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