Facing the future: Justice in a post-pandemic world

As the Covid-19 pandemic has upended our world, the term “apocalyptic” has come back into fashion. But did you know that the word “apocalyptic” has its roots in a Greek word that means to “reveal“? It’s worth asking: What are our “apocalyptic times” revealing? 

For one thing, the Covid-19 crisis has revealed the injustice in our systems. Earlier this month, we published stories our community shared about injustices including hunger in South Africa, the plight of India’s migrants and low-caste communities, and racial inequality in the U.S. healthcare system. The pandemic also revealed the enormous impact of human activity on the environment. It’s revealed the importance of connection. It’s forced many of us to reconsider what we value and how we spend our time.

How will we learn from this moment as we look towards the future? How will it change how we listen to each other or who we consider “essential”? 

We invited our community to respond to the question: What will justice look like in the post-pandemic world?

Here are some of the ideas we received.

I think practicing justice in the post-pandemic world is slowing down, being aware, and putting in the effort.

I think that COVID has stripped away a lot of titles, jobs, entitlement and false pretenses. I think we will be coming out with the recognition that everything we hold near and dear is actually quite fragile, and that isn’t a reality many people pre-pandemic were willing to acknowledge. I’m hoping that the average Canadian (in my case) will be more aware of hardships around them. I think practicing justice in the post-pandemic world is slowing down, being aware, and putting in the effort. -Beth Galster, Canada

As these losses settle, people will need ongoing care.

“Post-pandemic, communities will be facing on-going financial fall-out, fear of future instability, possible famine, loss of jobs and businesses, and loss of dreams. In a few months as these losses settle in, many people will need ongoing care, even if the rest of the world is moving forward and seems to forget about those still struggling.” Anonymous, Great Britain.

I have no idea, but the extreme inequality of the society I live in has been exposed for the horror that it is. I hope that there will be a nationwide effort to bring about change. –Tanya, South Africa

“The stress of the pandemic on some is familiar to too many in our communities.”

“I think practicing justice post-pandemic is to continue to remember the vast inequalities and how those affect people every day. The stress of the pandemic on some is familiar to too many in our communities. We need to become intolerant that these conditions exist and become determined to work against them. It will require the realization that we cannot all simply live as we choose, that there are consequences to these choices for others.” -Brian Howell, Illinois, U.S.

Our response will be a matter of breaking these systems open to create new and more just options.

At its core, justice is an eternal concept. Our practice always depends on time and place, contextualizing eternal values. I don’t think we yet know what the post-pandemic world will be, so it’s hard to project how we will contextualize to that new reality. I do believe, however, that this new situation is an opportunity for creativity. There are many “cracks” in current unjust systems (healthcare, wealth inequality, exploitative economic systems, workers rights) which this crisis has deepened. Our response will be a matter not of shoring up these cracks, but of breaking these systems open to create new and more just options. -Jennifer Ruppelt, Uruguay

How has your vision shifted in the midst of crisis? How can we practice justice in the post-pandemic world?

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