These are such interesting times.
In a few weeks, the world will start to emerge from the lockdown imposed in response to this first outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic. This is what might happen.
In a few weeks, we will see the beginning of the end of cash. People will have become used to not using it. It is a habit that will grow. The promise on the banknotes from the Governor of the Bank of England is his promise to pay the bearer of that note the value of one pound sterling. That promise will become irrelevant. The value of the future will be your credit rating, which is effectively your promise to pay others. Your promise will become the new cash. Your credit rating will become the way you are measured in society.
In a few weeks, the high streets will reopen. The shops will be shut. Department stores will have departed, become fond memories for the millennials in an old age that they cannot imagine with even a modest amount of optimism. Our idea of the shopping experience will be consigned to the past. Shops, restaurants, all consumer-facing businesses will become risk-averse, low investment, come-and-go entities. They will work on short-term leases and focus on short-term profits. Horizons will become lower, ambitions smaller. Supply chains will shorten, with the more distant links being the first to be removed. Made in China will become a derogatory term. There will be a push for localisation, for the home grown, for self-sufficiency, for recycling and reuse, and for the rejection of built-in obsolescence. we will make do and mend, and be happy to do so.
In a few weeks, the whole world will slowly go bankrupt. Every country will be in more debt than it can manage. Everybody will owe more money to everyone else than they could ever hope to pay back. Nobody will be unaffected. Nobody will have the courage to do the right thing, to make the big decisions that could begin the financial healing, though there is opportunity here. Creating sovereign wealth funds out of the monies loaned to business and individuals by governments would be the first step. This would distribute the burden across the widest base and at the same time create an investment shared by the government and the individual members of society. For that is what we will need – a vision of a future we can all share in.
In a few weeks, a vaccine will appear. There will be rancid fights and arguments during the period of manufacture and distribution. Reviews will begin, looking back at what happened and how, and people will begin to search for the culpable. We will find some, though they will not be guilty, and their punishment will be disproportionate and unfair. Governments will fall.
In a few weeks, the madmen will appear. They will tell you how we got here and whose fault it all is. They will claim to know the solution, and they will also claim to be the only people capable of delivering that solution. We have seen these people and their solutions before. We know what they are. We know what to do with them. We defeat them with love, honour and truth.
In a few weeks, we will look around and see the spaces where there used to be people. We will remember them. We will miss them. We will honour their memories in ways that we have never done before. We will create memorials to them, made of our flesh. There will be a baby boom in this coming winter of the discontented.
In a few weeks, we will pause. We will think of what we have endured. We will think of those who comforted us and cared for us and protected us during these dark days, the nurses and doctors and carers and social workers, the police and firefighters and ambulance workers, and especially of those who gave their lives to preserve ours. We will wonder what we can do to recognise these people, to reward them and honour them. We will think long and hard about that, and then we will realise that nothing we do will ever be enough.
There are interesting times to come.