In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, Western Europe was rocked by the industrial revolution. Factories were becoming increasingly mechanised. Production exploded as a result.
It was a time of unprecedented social change. It didn’t just change the output of factories, but it had social ramifications. It meant workers migrating to work in new factories. It ushered in a rise of capitalism.
From this unprecedented time, a whole new discipline of thought originated. Namely, Sociology. Famous sociological thinkers like Durkheim, Tocqueville and Weber were trying to make sense of these radical changes in their society.
What were the dangers of such modernity? What effect do these social pressures have on the individual? These were the type of questions they strived to answer.
In our current context, similar questions are being brought forward for discourse. Questions of what is essential in our society have been brought to the forefront. The value of workers is being reassessed. The extent of entertainment is being challenged.
Just as the industrial revolution birthed new Sociological thought, I believe this current crisis is going to birth new societal questions. Promoting progress.
One thing a trial is sure to do, is to make us reassess. That is why so many people come to faith through pain. The pain humbles and forces a reassessment of their lifestyle. So it is with our society.
Our economy is going through pain, and our economists are reassessing.
The UN Environment Programme recently released a study that suggested that increasing human pressure on the environment can cause an emergence of zoonotic diseases (diseases that transfer from animal to human).
“The unprecedented loss of biological diversity from anthropogenic causes has profound impacts on human health. One way that biodiversity loss threatens human health is by exacerbating risk and incidence of infectious diseases.”
- R.S. Ostfield
Risk and incidence can increase because the conditions are ripened. Factors that drive such increase include:
Deforestation and other land changes, illegal and poorly regulated wildlife trade, antimicrobial resistance, intensified agriculture and livestock production, climate change.
Collective ecological sins beget unintended consequences.
It begs the question, do some structures in our society need to change? Mass production necessitates this type of burden on our natural resources. Therefore, it follows that structures in our society need to change.
If air quality is better and greenhouse gas emissions are down, are we moving in the right direction?
“China’s carbon emissions dropped 18% between the beginning of February and mid-March, according to data compiled by the website CarbonBrief. Pollution over India has decreased dramatically, according to satellite images from NASA’s Earth Observatory. And in the U.S., a dramatic decrease in air travel, as well as a drop in vehicular travel, has also lowered emissions”
- (Christian Science Monitor)
I believe that now is the time that we should challenge the foundations of our society. My prayer is that God would bring innovation in our societies for the betterment of his earth and our health.
Coronavirus is a societal crucible for us. And from it, new things will be born. New thought will be born. New character will be born. New leadership will be born.
Maybe this is a time where we can pray for new thought leaders to rise up. Maybe we can pray that our leaders would have wisdom in what policies need to be implemented and what presuppositions need to be challenged. Maybe we can pray that sustainable change will come from this. That we won’t return to our idols.
The crucible is a refining fire. A purifying trial. Enforcing reassessment. But new things will be born by the grace of God.
Roden Meares enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden’s previous articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/roden-meares.html