Back in the panicky days before the Y2K virus, the band R.E.M. released a catchy single called ‘It’s the End of the World As I Know it, and I Feel Fine’. As we all know, those days passed and we have now moved on to the even more panicky world of coronavirus—and I feel fine.

Why?

Yes, coronavirus is nasty. Yes, it’s disruptive. It’s going to take a toll—we have no idea how many lives. Mine may even be one of them. But is it the end of the world? No. It’s the beginning of a new one—a much healthier one.

Like an infant in the final stages of labour, this new world is rapidly pushing through the veneer of the ‘new normal’ of life in the Age of Coronavirus: self-isolation, social distancing, lockdown, online meetings, incessant hand washing—and actually getting to know our families.

Panic shoppers

The panic shoppers, stockpiling biologically impressive quantities of toilet paper, provide an apocalyptic sideshow to the running totals of coronavirus casualties.

They remind me of the one-caravan circus in Ingmar Bergman’s wonderful 1957 film ‘The Seventh Seal’, where a knight returns from the crusades to find the land ravaged by plague and challenges Death to a chess match to stay alive.

The panic shoppers aren’t wrong, they’re not stupid; they’re just unconsciously reacting to survival fears. Be grateful you don’t share their level of anxiety. We all have survival fears and we all have a point where erratic behaviour kicks in.

All this is happening—but these are just the immediate effects.

Monopoly

Coronavirus has brought into plain view something that’s been simmering beneath the surface for quite some time: money, not wellbeing, is the pre-eminent value in society. We are rapidly learning otherwise.

Coronavirus has brought into plain view something that’s been simmering beneath the surface for quite some time: money, not wellbeing, is the pre-eminent value in society. We are rapidly learning otherwise.

The economy currently functions on exactly the same basis as the game of Monopoly. The money gradually moves up the wealth pyramid and becomes concentrated among fewer and fewer people—the clue’s in the name. Those at the tip of this ‘wealth pyramid’ increasingly gain the ability to tilt the Monopoly board in their own favour.

This system, based on financial slavery, has been unconsciously accepted as ‘the way it is’. Other assumptions underpin this system: unlimited economic growth, unlimited exploitation of the environment, and unlimited pollution.

This unsustainable, fantasy bubble economy doesn’t serve us; we serve it.

Outrage

Suddenly, with coronavirus, people are being put ahead of profit (or loss).

There is outrage at a Scottish hotel that “sacked” 12 workers who lived on the premises, making them both penniless and homeless. Locals rallied to support them. The hotel admitted to an “administrative error,” though it sounds more like a marketing error.

There is outrage that a landlady evicted a paramedic tenant out of fear she would catch the virus from him.

Supermarkets, normally in cutthroat competition, are working together to meet the shortages caused by market disruptions and panic buying.

In the British parliament, 150 MPs signed a letter demanding a basic minimum income. The financial effects of coronavirus—which have barely begun—are dealing a deathblow to our current hell-take-the-hindmost economy.

Little acts of kindness

What this global economic hard stop starkly reveals is how much of our existing lifestyle was based on the habit of frantically trying to make money. That’s over. For most people, life has slowed down enormously.

We’re taking time to stop, smell the flowers, tend to our own wellbeing—and notice each other. Little acts of kindness are rampant. In the Buckinghamshire village of Deanshanger, a benevolent fairy left rolls of toilet paper on front door steps.

This is the world we’re transitioning into—a world where people come first. The first step towards that world is a mind-set shift to recognise that the economy should serve us, not the other way round. While many people may recognise this intellectually, the shift won’t come until enough people embody it as emotional truth.

There will, no doubt, be resistance. Entrenched economic interests will try to restart the machine and get everything whirring as it once did. They may even succeed for a while.

But the longer we stay in self-isolation, the more we’ll realise that sustainable wellbeing is life’s primary value—and we’ll build a new world that reflects it.

Fusion Medical Animation