The useful people

The current situation has taught us many things but perhaps one of the most prominent is who the useful people in society are. The people who really make a difference when the chips are down.

It's not your actors, singers, sportspeople, celebrities or pointless social media influencers. It's your doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, scientists, shop workers, delivery workers, postal workers and the others who've been trying to save our lives or keep essential services running during the pandemic. Many of those people have done that at great personal risk too.

Yet when we look at society's typical reward system, it seems upside-down. The people who are useless in an emergency are the ones we generally give wads of money to and the genuinely useful people are often the lowest paid.

This of course has always been the case and I'm not naive enough to expect society to be particularly fair, but it would be nice if we learnt a lesson out of this and started backing up our current gratitude for these essential workers with a better reward system in the long term.

I've had a few discussions with people about whether this pandemic will change our society for the better and some people think it will. I hope it will too but I'm a devoted pessimist and rather suspect people will just revert to type after this and society will go back to business as usual.

I would at least hope, though, that we'll be better prepared for future pandemics because they will most certainly occur. As soon as this pandemic passes, we should be equipping our medical services — and society in general — for a pandemic that's twice as bad.