Pandemics, Revolution and Inequality

Even at the height of the struggle against Covid-19 the predictions were being made.  Andreas Kluth, writing for Bloomburg Opinion on April 11th said, ‘The most misleading cliche about the Coronavirus is that it treats us all the same. It doesn’t, neither medically nor economically, socially or psychologically.

In particular, Covid-19 exacerbates preexisting conditions of inequality wherever it arrives. Before long, this will cause social turmoil, up to and including uprisings and revolutions.’ In a world where social unrest has been increasing in rich countries like France and poor, Sudan and Bolivia, the health crisis has added an additional spark. While initially protest is dampened as governments force or encourage their populations into lockdown, conditions of fear, hunger and desperation for those with nothing to lose, almost guarantee eruption. It has come to pass in America.

As systems thinkers we know that levels of system mirror from the macro political to relationships within families, with broader social inequity and the tensions of unemployment and physical containment fueling the personal. Inequality, injustice and unfairness between family members may be tolerated until a point is reached where those who feel its burden will no longer remain silent. This may be between parents and children, children and parents, couples, siblings and grandparents and adult children. They may erupt with violence to others or themselves or decide they no longer wish to be a member of the family. Working with them requires a wider lens which sees the interplay between all levels of system to intervene and address them within and beyond the boundary of the family.