Covid’s greatest byproduct could be a shared ethical stance

Finn McRedmond: Wearing masks for each other’s benefit was not a hard message to grasp

A couple on a subway in Moscow: Face masks offer little protection to the wearer, but are designed for the collective benefit of everyone around. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/ AFP via Getty

A couple on a subway in Moscow: Face masks offer little protection to the wearer, but are designed for the collective benefit of everyone around. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/ AFP via Getty

When we talk about the lingering impacts of the pandemic, a few topics have remained consistent: the various merits of remote working, and whether we ought to return to offices at all; the future of international travel, and the potential long-term pivot to increased domestic tourism; wage inequality, and how we fairly remunerate those in care worker roles.

Important though these questions are, they have become tedious in their ubiquity. And, this hyper-focus on the immediate material consequences of the pandemic – such as where we work or where we holiday – has revealed a laziness in our thinking. For every hour of our lives spent thinking about the propriety (or not) of working from home or forgoing a trip to Spain, perhaps as many ought to be dedicated to the abstract moral questions coronavirus has forced us to consider.

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