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What is the benefit of COVID-19?

Undoubtedly, we are living through difficult times. The recent emergence and spread of the coronavirus among the people has provoked soci...

Undoubtedly, we are living through difficult times. The recent emergence and spread of the coronavirus among the people has provoked social reactions that pose extraordinary challenges to the leadership and population of the countries.

The virus that appeared is harmless to humanity as a species. Defeating the majority of the population, especially young and healthy individuals important for the survival of the species, by the immune system of the COVID-19 virus is not a difficult task. However, the societal challenge of the emergence of the virus is enormous. The responses of societies are putting humanity to a test that has never been seen before in history.

Humanity regularly faces attacks by harmful biological pathogens, often causing the extinction of a significant proportion of the population. Mankind as a race has always been able to live on. No infectious disease has been a major shock to human societies as a whole. This is true even if the emergence of certain pathogens has occasionally been accompanied by the disappearance of local societies. However, as the human race becomes more and more organized into a complex, cohesive, interdependent society, that is, it increasingly shows characteristics referring to a single organism, a living individual, the effects on the entire population, such as an emerging disease-causing virus, effects in human society as a whole.

We can see this now. We know that the virus that has appeared is harmless to the human race, yet it is necessary for human societies, different countries, to respond to it, as the effects of the virus cause social tensions. As a result, the functioning of humanity as a unified, social society is disrupted, and the organization as a whole ceases to function in the usual way. Humanity, as a unified, living organism, shows the symptoms of the disease.

How can the disease caused by the appearance of the COVID-19 virus be cured? Which method would be the most appropriate? What should be healed to make humanity, as a living organism, more resilient to external interventions later on? We are experiencing this situation, perhaps for the first time in the history of mankind.

The best, most effective answer would be to quickly find the biological antidote to the virus using science and technology. At present, however, the knowledge of humanity is not enough to be able to develop the antidote so quickly that we do not have to try and use other solutions.

So far, different countries and local societies use two different strategies and their different transitions to deal with the emergence of the virus.

One strategy is to do less social shock if, consciously or subconsciously, recognizing that the virus does not pose a threat to the species, we do nothing but let the virus spread more or less freely through the population. A prerequisite for this strategy is the availability of an advanced, well-functioning and effective health care system to treat patients who are likely to appear suddenly and in large numbers. And the risk of the method is that there will be unmanageable social tensions if the available health care system does not prove to be sufficient.

The other strategy used is to reduce the rate of virus transmission in the population by social distancing, thereby reducing and allocating tasks to the health care system in a timely manner. The precondition for this solution is that society is willing to follow the necessary rules. The risk of this method is that the consequences of personal distance, the significant economic downturn and the decline in the diversity of social contacts become unmanageable.

Different societies can make a decision by agreement, democratically, weighing the positive and negative sides of the decision together, thus reducing the tension caused by the solution, or, as societies based on authoritarianism operate, by dictatorial means. Whether by simply denying that the problem, the virus does not even exist or by enacting laws to be enforced, knowing that the social tensions that occur can also be controlled by means of power.

There do not seem to be any solution other than the two options mentioned for the virus that appeared, but which strategy is the right one? Both strategies are suitable for fighting the virus, and both strategies involve dangers. We could say that the best solution, the least social tension, arises when the choice is based on a subjective decision of the local society. That is certainly the case. However, there is also an objective aspect of judging a choice. And this is what is created as a result of the choice of strategy, how society changes after choosing one of the strategies manages to overcome the problem.

The consequence of the first strategy, which is to release the virus relatively freely to the population, is that society will continue to function, albeit with shock, with virtually no change. As it has been so far, everything continues. This decision is correct if society originally operates in a sustainable way in the long run.

The choice of the second strategy, according to which significant changes must be made in the life of the society in order to solve the problem, is correct if the society originally operated with problems, stuttering in an unsustainable way, it is worthwhile and possibly necessary to change it. In this case, personal distance as a healing strategy gives a chance for change.

Realistically, the vast majority of today’s societies operate in an unsustainable way. Nor is it necessary to list the facts and arguments which show that the present societies, and with it humanity as a whole (as a society and not as a race), are on an unsustainable path without change.

Of course, the impact of an external influence on a given social reaction can not only be positive in the long run but can also be detrimental. The positive or negative assessment of any change is determined by the social system that is currently in place. The same change can be positive for society at some point and negative for society at other times. Let’s look at what changes the social distancing given to the appearance of the coronavirus results or can result in society.

Of course, there are immediate and significant social tensions. The introduction of social distance and the reduction of personal relationships also mean the cessation or significant restraint of non-vital economic activities. This will result in a significant increase in unemployment and all the problems associated with it. This is a significant problem, it must be addressed by the leaders of the societies, the governments. However, this is a short-term problem that can be addressed by choosing the right responses. (It has been the case that incorrect responses have led to World War II, but let us not address this possibility in this case.)

However, the profound changes taking place in society may be much more significant than the temporary economic downturn and the emerging unemployment and its effects. These are:

  • The importance and role of teleworking and teleworking are increasing.
  • The role of distance learning is growing.
  • The need to travel is reduced, traffic is reduced.
  • Transport-related time, material, and energy consumption and pollution are reduced.
  • Communication is evolving and becoming more effective.
  • Production automation is evolving.
  • The role of personal physical contact is diminishing.

These effects change, shape societies. The question is what is the direction of change. Whether a change is good or bad makes no sense to think about. Every change has its pros and cons. It’s not even worth thinking about which side has the more. These are subjective judgments. An objective assessment of change can only be whether the change helps the future, whether it acts in the direction of changes that occur on their own, or not. If so, the change is correct.

In the society of the future, communication will take over the role of transport. In the society of the future, production, and work based on human physical presence will decline. The society of the future must work in balance with the environment. And these are the side effects of social distancing as a cure for the appearance of the virus.

The listed effects are future-oriented changes that help the future based on today's social development. The correct response to the emergence of the virus is to introduce social distancing, no matter how great the shock. The vast majority of societies follow this reaction. If you become aware of why this is the right answer, it will be easier to get over the difficulties.

The emergence of the COVID-19 virus has given us a chance, it can accelerate the social changes that seem necessary for the successful survival and necessary development of human society. Let's seize the opportunity. Let us seize the opportunity, the external force that has emerged, to create lasting changes in society that will help us survive. Take advantage of the disaster caused by the virus, turn it into changes that are useful to us. If we are able to do that, looking back at COVID-19 is not a blow to humanity, but an aid to survival.

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