The world is going through a global crisis, one for which we were not ready.
COVID-19, now officially defined as a pandemic, is taking our societies by storm, threatening our health and challenging our systems, industries, but also cultures and individual characters.
It is nothing short of fascinating to watch the world wake up to the fact that in a globalized world, we need -more than ever – to rely both on international and cross-sectorial cooperation and on each and everyone’s sense of responsibility towards our neighbors, towards society.
This public health crisis and our current collective effort to protect our healthcare systems from imploding is an uncanny reminder of the importance of personal and collective culture.
What could be more explicit, indeed, than a rapidly spreading viral disease to remind us of how each of us is – literally -a vector of change in our societies?
In the past few weeks since the beginning of the outbreak, the continuous and globalized news cycle has allowed us to peer at people and governments everywhere and to see how we collectively react to this situation with no precedent, to this mainly invisible threat.
It has felt like looking into a gigantic simulation.
We’ve seen people panic, some use common sense, some do as they are told, others believing their neighbors more than the experts, some minimizing the problem and sadly, even people completely ignoring, defying the rules or even blatantly doing what they knew would spread the virus.
We’ve seen that, in some parts of the world, people were more ready than others to comply with their authorities, than in others, people had such distrust in their government that they would not believe what they would hear. We’ve read, from insiders, that there are places where the level of individualism is so high that people refuse to change their habits for the sake of “freedom.”
I find this crisis quite revealing of the states of both our societies and of our neighbors’ character.
Who would have known that a pandemic would be such a window on ourselves?
Somewhere -I hope everywhere -leaders and changemakers are taking notes of what’s working or not.
Hopefully, things will change in our systems. Hopefully we will seize this opportunity to improve.
But what about our collective mindsets and our individual behaviors?
How will we address this crisis of character?
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