Good Riddance 2020!
Typically, the end of the year gives us time to reflect on the year that was and to look forward to the new year and beyond. We would usually come up with resolutions not just for the incoming year but also for the long-term. But this is not a typical year.
It has been a very difficult year for the entire world. Hit by a pandemic, most of the countries resorted to lockdowns that halted economic growth and plunged the world economy into a recession. The coronavirus pandemic is the single, biggest story of 2020, has infected more than 80 million people around the world, claiming the lives of 1.75 million and disrupting life as we know it.
Even with the approval of vaccines from the Western hemisphere, issues of production, cost, and distribution as well as the discovery of a new virus strain make the future unclear and unpredictable. It is difficult to plan for the long term when things are not clear. For individuals, businesses, and even governments, the future has become less predictable, which also means that setting long-term goals is much more difficult.
But this does not mean that we should not plan at all and just let fate take its course. Resolutions help us create goals so that our lives would be better. The uncertainty of this pandemic should not prevent us from coming up with short-term and medium-term goals.
On an individual level, I would imagine that many would focus on improving health, learning new skills, saving money, and maintaining healthy relationships with the family and other loved ones. It is important for us to continue to grow even as we face the uncertainties of the pandemic. Since the lockdown restrictions were relaxed, many of us have experienced what a “new normal” would look like so it is not entirely unknown. We can continue to go to work and perform essential activities as long as we follow health guidelines.
On the part of the government, planning should focus on sustaining a stricter implementation of health protocols, preparing for the delivery and distribution of vaccines when they arrive, pro-actively preparing for the new strain of the virus, and providing the stimulus to allow the economy to shift to recovery mode in 2021.
But in general, I think our forward-thinking endeavor should try to answer three general questions. The first is this—In the new normal, what do I want to recover from the pre-pandemic period? While the time without COVID-19 feels like ancient history and despite the virus turning our world upside down, there were good practices that we might want to hang on to as we navigate the new normal.
Second: What would I want to keep from the changes I made when the pandemic hit and the lockdown were imposed? A lot of people had to adjust their lives—personal and professional—in order to survive the lockdown. Some businesses resorted to work-from-home arrangements, some businesses that opened used technology to make sure health protocols are followed, even some local governments have become more proactive in governance. These are good practices that we should keep.
And finally, how do we “build back better”? The emphasis of the course is on “we” because even as the lockdown increased our isolation, this crisis demands that we work in unison. The vaccines will defeat the virus but it is our common goal, our common resolution to build back better that will ensure that our communities will recover from this adversity.
This virus, I believe, has taught us this lesson – the importance of working together. If you are in a supermarket, it is not only you who should follow protocol, the one standing behind you at the checkout counter should follow physical distancing, the person on the other aisle should cover his mouth when he sneezes, and the person who is experiencing flu-like symptoms should not enter that supermarket at all.
We all have a responsibility to ourselves, to our family, and to others, even those we do not know. And if we do that, maybe, just maybe, we might survive this pandemic as a better nation.
A peaceful and better new year to everyone!