Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

What next – ethics and our societies?

Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram discusses some of the key considerations for people and systems as we manage the psychological impact of COVID-19 & the future
So in thinking about the future and this pandemic, particularly in regarding to our ethics, personal ethics as well to our social ethics. I think the foremost thing  that’s worth thinking about is compassion. There isn’t a single person on this planet that hasn’t been affected by this pandemic.  In our societies everyone’s been affected  to a direct or lesser degree, either directly by  the threat of infection or by the lockdown policies. What we’re going to be seeing now is the lifting of restrictions to a variety of extent, and people are going to try to go back to normal.
As we do one of the most important things for us to recognises that our health is interdependent  and we need to think about the fact that, not only in terms of protecting ourselves, our friends, our loved ones, our families,  but we also need to think about each other. Whether it is how we deal with people that we walked down the street next to, to the way that we use our transportation and to our coworkers. It’s our mutual interdependence that’s going to keep us safe and it’s going to determine how the infection and the pandemic progress is in the future.
So compassion and empathy and a sense of mutual responsibility is really a key value that is going to impact our personal futures in our societies, together.  The second thing is that this pandemic, I hope has made you understand that this is not a natural disaster, this is not an act of God, but rather this pandemic has, from its initial outbreak to the way that it spread across countries, to the way that it’s affected particular countries differently, is all because of the different kinds of choices that we have made. Political choices, policy choices, social values.
And so, one of the really important things for us to think about is how do we act in a way to make sure that our communities and our political leaders in our governments are working better to protect the health of us and other people, and people in other sides of the world, is that our role as citizens is really important to the future of this pandemic, protecting the health of our loved ones but also helping us becoming resilient to threats in the future. And so, if anything, this pandemic  shows us how good government and good governance is really important at a national level and a global level.
So I  hope that in the future, whether it’s next week, next month in the coming months, you will become much more active. In politics and policy-making, and really make sure that our government  is reflecting our best interests. One of the most famous  things that I remember a professor of mine used to say  is “the government doesn’t have any money. It has our money”, and I think that’s one of the things that really should make an impact on you is that the government isn’t somebody else doing somebody else’s work using somebody else’s money. It’s there for our benefit and this pandemic shows that the government has not done very well.
No government, very few governments have actually effectively prevented this pandemic or done well in managing it. But in terms of the future, in terms of how it spreads again, whether there’s more peaks, the long term recovery plans, all depend on there being active, social citizenship, and in making sure that our governments do a good job. So in the future, one, is basically improve the way that we treat each other in terms of compassion, respect, and a mutual  responsibility for ensuring the health and wellbeing of each other and  second, becoming much more active citizens in ensuring that a government does the good job of protecting the  health and wellbeing of its people.

Dr. Venkatapuram outlined two key ethical considerations for societies and the individuals within them, namely us! Both of these have implications for our behaviour and actions, as individuals and societies.

The first is a hugely important consideration as we approach the end of this course – compassion. The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear and tragic example of the interdependence of our health as a global society.

This interdependence highlights the mutual responsibility that we all have to each other. This mutual responsibility for health has never been more important than it is now, as we emerge from a global pandemic.

The behaviours and actions that we take, individually and collectively, can determine the state of global health in the coming months and years.

Secondly, we heard about the importance of social activismaction that intends to create social change.

This highlights the role of individuals and societies in holding government’s and organisations accountable for protecting our health and rights. In the coming months, this will include reviewing decisions and actions, as well as joining the conversation about the next steps and the future.

These two considerations provide helpful guidance in understanding the next steps and behaviours discussed this week for individuals, groups, and systems.

This article is from the free online

COVID-19: Psychological Impact, Wellbeing and Mental Health

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now