The Pandemic and Systemic Change

by | Mar 25, 2020 | Formation, Reflections | 5 comments

The only certain thing these days is uncertainty.  When will the pandemic end, how many lives will be lost, will life ever be the same?

The pandemic is utterly frightening, and threatens to change everything.

But what about a possible silver lining?  What if the pandemic is a sign and an opportunity?  A sign that things should change.  An opportunity to do things better.

Maybe life shouldn’t be the same.  Maybe this experience is a wake-up call, inviting all of us to consider a different future.  A learning experience that invites us to re-thing the ways we live together.  Maybe this terrible experience will bring change, lasting and significant systemic change on personal and social levels.

We could learn that we are only as healthy as the least healthy among us, and work for universal health care, including preventive care.  We might eat and live in healthy ways and stop over-medicating ourselves.  We could work to end ongoing plagues like homelessness and hunger, daunting but not impossible goals.  We could learn that less is more, end the deadly materialistic mentality, and live more simply.

We could re-discover the value of community, and live in much greater solidarity with each other.  We might design our social systems and priorities to foster the common good, instead of favoring the wealthy and ignoring the poor.  We could change the tax system so that everyone, and every corporation, pays their fair share.  We could get money out of the political system so that decision-makers respond to their constituents rather than to their big donors.

We might learn from the fragility we felt during this crisis to see the planet, nature and resources as finite and precious, and begin to live more responsibly as caretakers of God’s creation.

I don’t know that any of this will happen.  But coronavirus is not just one more difficult life experience, and we would be totally foolish not to come out at the end of it wiser and fully committed to seek creative solutions to the systems that cause poverty and keep so many people locked in misery.

Jim Claffey,
Commission to Promote Systemic Change


  1. Tom

    Right on target!

  2. Marge Clifford, DC


  3. Shaun

    Well written. I agree, it’s a time for healing for the earth and humanity.

  4. Sr. Mary Anne Evidente, DC

    How right you are! God’s invitation is clear – the opportunity for change is here!

  5. Sister Cecilia Hudec

    Yes this could be an excellent way to begin deeper structural change on all levels.