Everyone has experienced a significant change in life in the past few days, weeks, or months, depending on the overall situation of the part of the world they live in. As struggles to encompass the COVID-19 increase, it’s possibly going to change it considerably more. Aren’t we already annoyed by it, depressed for being away from our loved ones and tired of living indoors constantly? Everything is affected, events are canceled, the economy is failing. It’s natural to feel on the edge and terrified about what’s in store for future. All we want of this is to be over soon, and to realize that nothing lasts forever. As we believe it to be short-term, we make plans and things to do when life would return to normal and look forward to it optimistically. How the post-pandemic world would be? and how can we build the new normal?
For a moment, imagine a scenario in which life never completely returns to how it was pre-COVID-19. What if, like many other historical turning points, this also proves to be one, after which the world is never the same? Or on a brighter side, what if the world comes out of it even better than it was before? Metzl, healthcare futurist thinks, this sounds conceivable. However everything relies upon what we do and what our approach is at present. Certainly, there is no going back to normal but we must be aware of what we ought to do now to make the new normal an acceptable one.
Turning Points Of History
Probably for most of us, the most effective event in the worldwide politics that has occurred during our lives, was the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. At that moment, little did anybody know that this very day is going to change the world. It never came back to how it was post 9/11. Apparently COVID-19 – an influenza like pandemic with somewhat low death rate may appear to be insignificant as compared to the murder of thousands of innocent civilians. What happened next and whether it was justified or not, is a debate for another day. But many historians clearly think that this is certainly not a 2001 moment, rather this is something a lot bigger.
The World War II
Another mark of history was the World War II in 1941. No one realized where it will take them and what the consequence of the war were going to be. Everyone was frightened and demoralized. But, even in this state of confusion and the worst times, people started to visualize how the future world would look and work. The circumstances we’re currently in, are obviously, not the same; it is anything but a war. It is, the science of biology and geopolitical world coming together. As the COVID-19 calamity continues to unfold, its geopolitical interference will turn out to be a lot more significant.
The Old World Is Giving up
The new world is devised and comprehended only when the old one gives up. If we break through this and review with the current state of the world; what we all know and grew up with regarding post-WWII order, was somehow already faded before this current COVID-19 situation popped up. That order might have visualized a world with dominance and limited nationalism. Whereas, currently we are in a time of re-nationalism of the world, with many extremist and dictatorial leaders in power in many countries.
Establishments that were supposed to ensure international cooperation and institutionalize policies like The World Bank, The United Nations and The World Health Organization have been deficient with regards to this re-nationalization. No doubt that we don’t have an operational structure in effect to address not only COVID-19 but any worldwide pandemic. Consider the substantial challenges of environmental change, lessening the plastic waste, protecting the seas, getting ready for upcoming computerization and Artificial Intelligence. It is near to impossible for any country or nation to take on or solve these all alone.
The Silver Lining
However, there is still hope and some positive pieces that we can look forward to.
1. More “man power”
In 1918, when the Spanish influenza plague hit, population of the world was significantly very less and literacy rate was about only 30 percent of the population. So basically the “man power” that could take care of this crisis was very low. On the contrary, now we have a worldwide population of approximately 7.7 billion with around 86 percent literacy rate. This, firstly implies that we have more power to battle the enemy and with properly structured efforts we can fix the messed up situation.
2. More connectivity and tools
Similarly it’s significant to note that we have never been more connected to each other globally than we are at present. It used to take a great deal of resources and many years for information to move earlier. Now it can fly through the world within a matter of seconds over the internet. Haven’t we all felt well-informed and updated all these months after the COVID-19 hit?
So, there is this hope and the difference it can make. The response time is equally as fast as the pandemic. Our ancestors would have never possibly imagined the world becoming a global village, let alone the tools we own to fight this crisis. But as we are experiencing this extraordinary force and power of connectivity, we are also subjected to terrible setback of our top-down establishments.
Inevitable Challenges And The Aftermath
I would not be wrong if I say every one of us has felt apprehensive these last few days, weeks and months. It has affected every individual directly or indirectly. The stock markets went down, some are losing their jobs or going by their day with no business. Others are getting sick or losing lives. We don’t have the foggiest idea about the exit plan or when will it end. Meanwhile, prepare to deal with a lot of unforeseen things. Some predictable and inevitable challenges include economic stagnation or recession, issues with our healthcare systems as well as education system. And then who has prepared for the unpredictable?!
Like any other crisis, there are going to be reverberations. We may also observe some critical second and third-order impacts. As the pandemic spreads across the globe, unfortunately the underprivileged nations of the world get affected pretty badly by the plague – with those nations collapsing and others incapable to help. There are going to be other state or national level challenges, to institutions, establishments and democracy. While majority would be dealing with the challenges, there are those with different motives and goals from general masses and this could be a prospect of opportunity for them. Consequently, the world definitely is not going to get back to how it was before this crisis, rather will be quite different.
The New World Is Taking Charge
Despite having no precise idea of it, we can imagine the post-COVID-19 world. At this point, world was already in the process of virtualization of education, work and activities, automation of services with minimal or no physical presence of staff, economical reorganization. As for the unpredictable challenges of future, it partially depend on how we want the new world to be. Now is the time to decide and plan strategically for it.
Looking back, imagine if we had prepared for it and planned a quick and better response to the COVID-19 outbreak. What if we had an approach to nip it in the bud?
This calls for a structure where people come together at a platform comprehensively beyond differences across the globe. Once we are clear about our future vision, we would be able to set a standard to evaluate our strategies. There are pre-existing and quite promising future visions. What it needs is a powerful institutions that could comprehend the complexity of problems and the structure of policies.
The New Normal
The idea is to first accept this undesirable change we have to live with and adjust to it within our capacity in order to build the New Normal. As our old normal was the new normal for our ancestors in the mid 1900s; this will be normal for our generations as we build our community beyond COVID-19.
Although there is a huge and interesting difference between both the times as we compare. As mentioned earlier, now we have better approach to problem solving, more brains, stronger and better connectivity, automation, faster information transfer and improved knowledge. With all these tools in hand and inspiration combined, we can find a way to make our vision a reality. We can work on making our new normal suitable enough to adapt to. We are all together in this and only we can make it possible.
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