The former Talking Heads frontman wrote about the ongoing global crisis and shared his observations on what it showed about modern society.
“It’s ironic that as the pandemic forces us into our separate corners, it’s also showing us how intricately we are all connected,” he wrote on his Reasons To Be Cheerful site. “It’s revealing the many ways that our lives intersect almost without our noticing. And it’s showing us just how tenuous our existence becomes when we try to abandon those connections and distance from one another. Health care, housing, race, inequality, the climate — we’re all in the same leaky boat.”
He continued to note that “viruses don’t respect borders” and said that meant “we have to put aside some of our suspicions and animosities towards others and see how much we can limit or even halt the damage.”
Byrne went on to discuss the actions of countries like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, who “didn’t hesitate” to stop the spread of COVID-19, as well as the Italian city of Vò. “Folks [in those countries] have shown a willingness to share information with the government, make personal sacrifices and do what is necessary for the greater good,” he wrote.
“What is happening now is an opportunity to learn how to change our behaviour,” he continued. “For many of us, our belief in the value of the collective good has eroded in recent decades. But in an emergency that can change quickly.
“In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behaviour accordingly.”
Byrne concluded: “We might be too far down the road to test every asymptomatic person, but a change in our mindsets, in how we view our neighbours, could lay the groundwork for the collective action we’ll need to deal with other global crises. The time to see how connected we all are is now.”
In February, the musician returned to Saturday Night Live 31 years after his first appearance. He was joined by the cast of his critically acclaimed Broadway show American Utopia to perform versions of ‘Once In A Lifetime’ and ‘Toe Jam’.