Perspective in the time of COVID-19
I spend much of my time swimming around the topic of sustainable development. My reflections are often ancohred to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) — 17 universally acknowledged goals that make for a better and more sustainable world.
Of the 17 goals, SDG 3, “Promote Health and Well-Being at All Ages” is one that we’ve achieved remarkable success in over the last decades. Child and maternal mortality has fallen dramatically and life expectancy has gone up. But what has happened to well-being? And what do we mean by well-being anyway?
As COVID-19 pushes us to grapple with the prospect of lockdown, uncertainty, and spending the festive season without much cheer, I’m finding comfort, hope and new answers to this question in the poetry of Ezra Pound. When it comes to sustainable development, I’m reminded once again “not everything that counts can be counted”.
O generation of the thoroughly smug
and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,
I have seen them with untidy families,
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are,
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
and do not even own clothing.
Ezra Pound, 1885–1972