News

Living in the moment when the world changes by the hour

By James Bennett

It's difficult to completely grasp the COVID-19 pandemic because of the thousands of scenarios that are seemingly changing every hour.

People are already discussing what it will be like "when things are back to normal" but we have no idea when that will come.

Could it be May, June, August or not even until next year? But what is "things back to normal"?

The left and right of politics will return to slagging each other off, Americans will still vote for Donald Trump, a country engulfed in civil war will pick up their weapons again and the two words ‘climate change’ will return to news feeds.

This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments when you're living through a significant historical event.

Yes, everything in the past is history but when it's a ‘moment that stops the world’ you know it's not on the same level as a bridge opening.

Our children will be telling their children about what it was like to live during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They can tell them about cities like London literally pausing to applaud healthcare workers across the United Kingdom.

Closer to home, an idea has done the social media rounds asking people to stand at the end their driveways on Anzac Day to commemorate the fallen, since the public gatherings have been cancelled.

It's clear proof our way of life has been flipped. It's almost exciting to be living through this, but just as scary.

For many people born after the moon landing, there were maybe three or four moments that truly stopped the world until the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

But other moments like the Great Depression, John F. Kennedy's assassination, the fall of the Berlin Wall — and now the coronavirus pandemic — do change the course of history.

These significant history-changers have sometimes led to another major follow-up of significant history.

Case in point, the Great Depression played a significant role in the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany — and we know what happened after that.

What are we meant to make about living in this moment?

There will be numerous inquiries and economic changes globally, but can we learn from mistakes?

It's been said in the past by the aviation industry, when there's a plane crash the safety authorities learn more about how to make planes safer.

Since the turn of the century there have been two major economic crashes — the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2007-08 and the coronavirus pandemic.

And even prior to that there was the Black Monday crash in 1987 followed by 1992's Black Wednesday.

Knowing that there have been four serious market crashes in 35 years, it will be interesting to see if governments can prepare for a crash.

Will federal and state governments set aside money in their budgets for an economic crash?

In Australia, this year is particularly difficult as money is needed to support already struggling bushfire-ravaged communities.

It would be a miracle for Australia not to fall into debt.

Some people would be feeling helpless knowing the next few years will be tough. They want to make contact with close friends and family but can't.

It's heartbreaking but necessary — however, that doesn't mean we can't support each other.

Call your family and friends, have a chat with them about how they're coping — because it might be the comfort they need during this time.