The system is rigged, 2020 has shown us how much

by SF Team, 2 July 2020

2020 has seen some of the most far reaching social disruption of our generation. Attempts to manage the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on health have resulted in significant economic decline.

Unprecedented losses in livelihoods along with previously unimaginable restrictions placed on the movement of goods and people have drastically increased food insecurity, among much other suffering, around the world. We imagined it would be a matter of weeks until things got “back to normal”. We were completely wrong. Things may never go back to the way they were, and that might not be a bad thing.

In the wake of the effects of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained traction well beyond its origins in the US. It is becoming increasingly apparent to a much broader audience that the social and economic systems that underpin the “normal” we were so keen to get back to has not been good to many of us.

These systems are rigged to make us believe that the only reason one does not succeed is because they aren’t good enough, they don’t follow the rules properly, they don’t make the most of the ample opportunities on offer. We judge ourselves and others by our ability to ascend the capitalist ladder and avoid adversity along the way. We condemn others and chastise ourselves for not meeting the standards of these systems, established over centuries, generations, by those in power to make sure they stayed in power. This thinking has infiltrated every level of society, from internal dialogues to global governance, propped up by unjust economic, healthcare, education and justice systems.

The world is at a turning point. Business as usual has been interrupted. We can either go back to the familiar, hoping that we make it, trying our best to keep up with the rules and beat out others in an environment of artificial scarcity. Or we can acknowledge what we have learned, take the time and do the work to build towards systems of abundance, which are equitable, sustainable, open and share power.

Taking time to reimagine our world is a luxury not many have. But we are far closer than we think. There are people, projects, communities, organisations that have taken the time, taken the risks, embraced the uncertainty, and started building their piece of a reimagined socio-economic system long before others even recognised the problem. These are ready to build upon.


The Shuttleworth Foundation works with individuals brave enough to reimagine the world we live in through its fellowship programme. Fellows have a vision for a better future and a clear idea of how we might get there.

Posted in philanthropy