Coronavirus is mutating, adapting so it can survive. We're changing too in response. Our changes aren't biological though, they're cultural, our great evolutionary adaption.
Twelve months on from Covid-19 hitting we're changing our behaviours and our laws.
Here are some of those changes which for me stand out:
Alerts on our phones
I use a cheap flip-top phone. The noise it makes when I receive a Covid alert sounds like Satan calling to say the world's ending. A little intrusive, but under the circumstances. Makes you wonder what else might justify the government using this ability in the future.
Washing our hands
At times it seems like we've all been going through a personal hygiene class at primary school. But washing our hands all the time should be something that sticks with us into the post-Covid era, if there is one.
Yes, you can stay at home when you're sick. Your workmates are going to look at you funny if you don't. And finally, New Zealand is joining other civilised countries in granting people an adequate amount of sick leave, up from a meagre five days to 10. The law will come into effect towards the end of the year.
Here to stay? Or a necessary measure that will at some point cease? Something we'll need to keep an eye on. Having your movements publicised, even if your name isn't, is quite an imposition. Potentially embarrassing.
I'm currently on a road trip to Palmerston North to drop off my daughter at university. If we were a Covid case, our itinerary would show we stopped at nearly every op shop along the way. Full disclosure, we're op shop addicts on a bender. It's just what we do.
This will be interesting to watch. Has our attitude to travelling changed? Factor in concerns about global warming (a jet plane has a heavy carbon footprint).
Perhaps we'll see New Zealanders staying closer to home longterm. That will mean getting to know our region of the world better, perhaps appreciating it more.
The big realisation that's come from Covid is that centralised government structures work for some things. The state system in the United States has hindered a centrally co-ordinated response to Covid. Though there have been other issues, obviously.
In many ways I'm in favour of more local democracy and institutions responsive to local people. And yet there's no denying that centralisation of power and bureaucracy has its place.
There are trends towards centralisation and away from centralisation occurring simultaneously. Covid has tipped things one way.
Which leads to my final observation. I have an increased appreciation of the impossibility of maintaining all things of value at once. What I mean by this can best be illustrated by an example. Freedom of movement is something good. It's a value that society can try and uphold.
Public health is something good also. Those two "goods" sometimes clash, and tough decisions need to be made. Covid has shown clearly that one good, freedom of movement, is weakened so that another one, public health, is strengthened.
As we move forward as citizens, I think we can better appreciate in life, politics and government you can't avoid trade-offs. And we're never likely to agree entirely on the balance we give to different goals and values.
There will always be a need for negotiation between people and institutions who put more weight on one value over another.
Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a shop assistant. We were talking about the level 4 lockdown and how much she loved it.
She felt it was the first time in her working life that she had felt properly revived. She added though, you weren't allowed to say that you enjoyed lockdown in front of the boss, because he went nuts.