The COVID-19 pandemic has made obvious, more clearly than ever, the cruel injustices built into our contemporary political and economic order, the crux of our global systemic pecking order with its wide and growing gap between haves and have-nots. During this pandemic it is the poorer, more disadvantaged people, nationwide and worldwide, who are hardest hit, not just by COVID but by the crushing hardships of job loss, hunger, homelessness, and despair accompanying the claws of the virus. It is those in the most vulnerable in the poorest countries who have the hardest time getting adequate measures of care and of prevention. While the richest nations are hoarding vaccines, as things stand now it may take years before those in the poorer nations get enough of their people immunized to reach herd immunity.

Likewise, the failings of our profiteering market model of medical care and pharmaceuticals has become unconscionably obvious during the pandemic. Poorer countries are rightly demanding a waiver of global laws that, by systemically putting profit before people, are greatly increasing the risk of aggravating and perpetuating the pandemic, globally.

In response to this demand, modest steps have been taken by the powers-that-be to temporarily relax some of the regulations that put the economic growth of the rich above the urgent needs and survival of the poor. With luck, perhaps enough people worldwide will get vaccinated in time to rein in the current pandemic. So, as many say, we can “get back to normal”.

Problem is that “normal”, as we’ve come to know it, is the unfair, unkind, cruelly disequal state of local and global affairs that led to the pandemic in the first place. If we human beings are to avoid far more crushing pandemics in the future, and even more pan-cataclysmic events such as ecological demise, mass starvation, and/or nuclear war—we need more than temporary waivers of laws governing the global marketplace. We need a humane transformation that puts people and nature before profit, and need before greed. Let us be woken by this brutal pandemic to organize and share, and to be kind, beyond national and racial and conventional boundaries, to build a convivial way of living in harmony with all peoples, with all living beings, and with the Gaia, the earth herself. Let us let the pandemic, painful as it’s been, be the birthing process of new life of sharing and caring that embraces diversity and includes all, with empathy and love.