For a while I’ve had the feeling that we’re living in an upside-down world. The things that should matter don’t, and those that shouldn’t do: The planet teeters on the edge of climate catastrophe, yet a desk job trading oil remains immensely lucrative. On the flip side, carers enable society to function, yet they barely make ends meet, or remain entirely unacknowledged. We are assured that for each instance of something being upside-down, there is a sound economic explanation.
The pandemic seems to have hit pause on this long game of pretending.
Those of us paid the least, who have been elaborately told that this is due to a lack of skills or low demand or easy jobs, are suddenly revealed to be among the most essential to the going-on of life, while also the most disposable. And those of us who used to rush from meeting to meeting, eyes perpetually glued to a phone, anxiety pulsing through the veins, now poke our heads out windows once a day to clap. The lull in all our frantic movements has cleared the air and crashed oil prices.
I hope that after the pandemic has blown over, we won’t go back to pretending. I hope we won’t be persuaded by terms like ‘social mobility’, which implies climbing out of an undesirable class that is nonetheless the foundation of the whole structure. I hope we’ll still see the things that matter and have no remorse about breaking the system that is increasingly breaking them.