Lessons from living through a pandemic

Lessons from living through a pandemic

The year 2020 undoubtedly defied expectations and predictions. Yet as a new year commences, the experience has not deterred many from offering predictions about what is coming next. While it might be tempting to decisively announce that the world after COVID-19 will be fundamentally different, it really is impossible to say. Given this, it might be more productive to reflect on what has been learned from the past year. With that in mind, here are some themes, questions and issues that have become more apparent through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facing uncertainty

We crave stability, for patterns and regularities in our lives. This is understandable, this assumption of linearity allows us to make decisions and chart out our lives. When that certainty is taken away from us, or more accurately, when the lack of certainty that exists is revealed more directly to us, we tend to struggle. In this way, COVID-19 has revealed that collectively we are not very good at dealing with situations of uncertainty.

Updating our thinking

John Maynard Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” It seems that many of us would rather change the facts. One of the challenges with COVID-19 has been the necessity of updating our thinking based on how the situation has developed and what we have come to know. What may have made sense a year ago may no longer make sense now, having now accumulated a year of knowledge and experience. This holds at an individual, institutional and societal level.