Airlines are grounding their flights. Humanitarian organizations are grounding their staff. Companies are doing the same. The lockdown is global, regional, and national. The safety nets that we assumed were in place now look broken and abandoned. All of a sudden, life on this blue planet looks a lot more fragile than it did just a few weeks ago. At the same time, we are more interdependent than ever before in human history. We are all in this together.
Dr. Ruchi Saxena, India Flying Labs
This newfound fragility and solidarity are generating considerable discussion on the need to improve society and government. This is important and necessary. Every crisis offers an opportunity for systems change by radically changing mindsets and replacing faltering institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception, which is why we must keep asking the same questions we’ve been asking since WeRobotics was founded: who gets to do this social reimagining? Who gets a seat at the table? Who gets a voice? Who gets to be heard? These questions go to the heart of why Flying Labs exist:
Our good friend and colleague Aarathi Krishna puts it best in her observation of the COVID-19 response:
“There are a lot of initiatives at the moment around social reimagining. […]. However – if those that are doing this reimagining, are in positions of colonial, patriarchal, identity, economic, ability or any other forms of privilege – I urge the following. Equitable social reimagining can only occur if, in that reimagining, we also consider/provoke a different role than those in the majority/privilege hold. […]. If you talk about not replicating past inequality – then consider how in these new futures your role/influence might be from a different position. Consider not doing the reimagining with those that share similar privileges to yourself. […]. Ask those that are minoritised/marginalised, and not just in the obvious ways. And honestly, find ways to step to the side. […]. With love.“
Local action is essential. So now is the time to remind everyone of the critical importance of inclusion, equal opportunity, diversity, ethics, and standards. It is on this basis that Flying Labs are responding to the pandemic across 25+ countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In doing so, they are reimagining their societies through The Power of Local:
Our role at WeRobotics is to continue supporting locally-owned and locally-led efforts.