Real Leaders

Some Thoughts on 2020, the Virus and the Need to Reinvent Ourselves

Just as the First World War precipitated the society of that time into the twentieth century, it could well be that the year 2020 brought us similar disruption.

A microscopic virus managed to destabilize our lives, our habits, and our certainties. One year ago, who could have expected such turmoil? This virus has managed to traumatize many of us with long queues of coffins, putting a short term to what we considered was standard, economic growth, and prosperity that taken as a given. This little monster’s punitive journey followed an erratic trajectory, hitting regions that did not expect its visit and hence were badly prepared for its arrival. The impact made us collectively rediscover the relativity of things.

This pandemic has gnarled people’s patience; hence, polemics opposing preventive sanitary measures to individual freedom. In fact, what is at stake is a fundamental re-evaluation of our society’s values. That crisis has once again revealed our collective inability to find concerted solutions to address a problem, which is global by essence. Each State tries to define its path and to apply its solutions. This turmoil is shaking a number of the current political systems. We cannot yet measure the full impact of this pandemics’ pernicious effects. It would appear that we are far from being out of the tunnel with the longer-term consequences of it. We have no real clue what the “new normal” will look like, except that Asia is prone to come out stronger from this crisis and that it has accelerated our entrance into the digital area.

Very few times in recent years have our trajectories been so near dependent on the evolution of society. What each of us is doing may appear in that context as relatively futile, but at the same time, this crisis acts as revelatory. It is up to each family, to each one of us, to reinvent its sustainability model. Some couples have experienced difficulties to overcome the confinement period together, while others have felt their ties reinforced.

However, those strange circumstances did not affect my working rhythm. It was merely necessary to adapt — as everybody did — to the new working tools. Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and a few other Californian neologisms have become our new daily work companions. I’m at least four to five hours a day in communication with India, the United States, our European neighbors, Russia, China, Singapore, and the Middle East. To establish new trust relationships by internet is far from easy, but once the relationship exists, we save a great deal of time! No queues in the airports, and no traffic jams. Anyway, let us face it: nothing will ever replace face-to-face contact, a frank handshake, the warmth of a smile!

I am surprised by what it has been possible to undertake and implement this year, despite such odd circumstances. It happened in a different way than expected, but the results are there. Of course, like everyone else, I have travelled less than during previous years due to the pandemic. I did not visit more than a dozen countries.

Now that we are reaching the end of this somewhat strange year, let us welcome 2021, with renewed optimism and energy, under the sign of an improved sanitary situation and the return to multilateral relations more favorable to global solutions.

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