What lesson should we learn from the horrible year that is ending? Perhaps it’s:
Rejoice, for the worst is over! No, pessimists predict the future more accurately than optimists, so let’s choose this message: Prepare, for the worst is yet to come!
Unfortunately, of the six worst global threats to humankind—war and weapons, global warming, famine, pandemics, radioactive contamination, and cyber risks—deaths from Covid have been far lower than can be expected from any of the other five disasters, some of which are also more probable. The message of 2020 must be: Bad things happen when you deny reality, so smarten up!
The pandemic has distracted us from other dangers, especially global warming. But now that vaccines are coming, we can notice other matters, and had better damn well do so! We can’t solve these problems one at a time, but must handle them all together.
Fortunately, that is easier than handling them separately. Let’s form task force teams. Team One, please work on democracy. If we can’t run decently competent governments, we can’t get anything else done, so save democracy! We don’t have anything better.
Team Two should handle inequality. It’s not merely that poverty makes bad citizens. It’s also that corporations have interests that clash with the public interest (e.g. profiting from military spending) and enough money to buy votes. Fixing governance requires increasing fairness.
Team Three: Find ways of shifting the economy from war and nuclear technology to peace, green technology, health, and education. We need good jobs for the people who are building tanks and bombs now.
Team Four: Find ways of using the Internet and digital technology safely, without suppressing freedom of speech.
Pick your team. And use this magazine and our website tosavetheworld.ca to share what you learn. Thanks!