Our New Reality
by Anthony Antonopoulos
WE ENTERED our new reality violently, and wildly unprepared for what there was to come. In only a few months we lost our friends, relatives, jobs, security, structures, and all our foundations are now feeble.
However, one thing goes on: life as a whole.
Five months after the first lockdown, some are trying to find their feet again, either by looking for a new job or working on their projects. Above all, one thing is certain: this is an opportunity to reinvent our routines.
No matter our social class, we have all been frantically accumulating working hours that hurt humanity more than it helps. As Oscar Wilde so eloquently put it: “having people work long hours at repetitive tasks deprives humanity of individuals whose genius could otherwise improve the world”.
These individuals are not just the working class. The dehumanisation caused by money is apparent in all. Even those with higher financial and social status are depriving this world of their intellect by focusing on repetitive tasks — though of different nature compared to the ones carried out by the working class.
So, rich or poor, working class or bourgeoisie – the lines separating us are thin and fragile. One may say they are even made of paper.
How can we reinvent our daily lives?
For the first time during the lockdown, I felt a strange sensation, an uncanny feeling of safety considering the circumstances. As a young Greek, the furlough scheme has been the first time I felt a government actually cared about my welfare.
For the first time, I was given the opportunity to work on and develop my ideas while getting paid. It was a strange feeling. For once, I experienced the socialism of the upper-class; namely, the ability to improve and contribute to society while the system/parent/partner covers your basic needs.
It was a beautiful feeling, and five months later, I continue working on those projects, sometimes.I don’t live in the UK anymore, and so I don’t receive any money. In order to make ends meet, I am now forced to take a job that pays just €7 an hour. Of course, the truth is my ends don’t meet. It’s because of my partner that I cope now. So, there is a choice we now need to make: do we continue working for €7 an hour and possibly increase the hours in order to pay the bills, or focus on our happiness and ideas?
I’m neither trying to reinvent the wheel here nor introduce revolutionary ideas that no one has stated before. However, now more than ever, we need to demand what this pandemic brought to some of us: a guaranteed salary, and a sense of security.
The term ‘universal basic income‘ has become a buzzword lately. To me, the financial security I experienced through this scheme must now be deepened and universalised, rather than bury it with the tired excuse of ‘there is no magic money tree’. Only when money stops being an issue, our ideas and innovation will exclusively and wholeheartedly aim at improving our lives and not capital’s life.
How do we achieve this? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am going to refuse those 30 hours of overtime every month for a generous €200 extra.
I’d rather get paid less and enjoy my partner more.
I’d rather spend my time developing my ideas.
I’d rather work together – collectively and freely with some sense of financial security – with my friends to develop their ideas, and, hopefully, in that process, make life better for everyone.