The springboard to what happens next
We should be grateful that so many lessons have been learnt from the past twelve months of COVID-19. They equip us to head into 2021 with confidence that, as a world, we can handle disasters even when we have lunatic leaders and ideological, social and widespread economic divisions created by them for selfish purposes. What has kept us going as a universal society? Mostly, the Common Sense of reasonable men and women prepared to pit their wits against challenging health and economic problems, in spite of – rather than because of – the directions they have been given. Pause for a moment to give thanks for this multitude of mostly unheralded unknowns. They have proved something we all need to understand.
Locked up for safety’s sake, millions of people have used the time to study and equip themselves for what is coming next. We don’t know what but we can guess that the widespread use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will redund millions of jobs. Employees so redunded must eat and will need money from somewhere. Governments are already funding most of them, on a temporary basis. Temporary will have to become permanent for many. Large numbers of people will start and run their own businesses or gigs. Even so, there will have to be a universal wage of some sort, but, please, not to add to the riches of the wealthy.
Transparency in all financial dealings and transactions must now be the aim of Finance Ministers worldwide. Their own finances should be equally available for inspection. Does that mean that we shall have no privacy at all? I’m afraid it does, very largely. It is the price of high living standards, unbridled competition and theft. There may come a time when humans discover the social value of honesty. At present that seems some way off. When the cost of monitored honesty becomes too great we may see a move in the Decent Dealings’ Direction. There are many people already committed to this. Sadly, not enough.
Covid, plus the widespread fires everywhere from SIberia to Sydney has given a real push for Sustainability – and not before time. On a personal level, I am delighted that Sir David Attenborough can see the surge towards everything he has been working so hard for these last many years. Globally, the race for Energy Given Free (EGF) is finally on. Paradoxically, winning it will improve the carbon ejections from earth dramatically and, incidentally, make room for more forests to redress the stinking atmosphere we have created.
Our Diets are changing to meet the reductions in methane release demanded from the dairy and meat industries. The move toward vegetarianism is well under way. It will progress as fast as giving up smoking progressed in the bulk of the world. Health will become an even more significant driving force on the economic scene. Paying for it will transform the Insurance Industry and prudent preparation for old age will become a needed lesson for the young.
The poor have often lived in dirt and discomfort in rural shacks. When they move to the town and city they frequently try to live the same way. Germs develop enthusiastically in such surroundings – indeed, Covid may have developed partly because of such an environment. Crowding leads to these scenarios. Cleanliness has always been a sign of wealth and education. Now it is a No 1 must have. Transparency, inspection and discipline will work towards improving this behaviour, which is so ungrateful to the planet.
Congregation may never be quite the same. Zoom has snatched the entire functional communication industry and more than a little of the soft communications we enjoy. This is the first year that I have seen so many people pay attention to the greetings cards and letters they were sending electronically. Some have been very touching in their simple straightforwardness. Others have raised a good, healthy laugh. Far fewer than usual have been commercially tasteless and therefore egregiously polluting – even when virtual.
Wars will continue but will be largely conducted from desks rather than in the field. Robots may fight joint-to-joint but cyber wars will become the next big thing we have to contend with. The remains of the physical wars will be slogged out by drones chasing each other across the skies. A downed drone will demand less loss of human life. The strategy for new aerial battles will be dictated by teenage gamesters, some of whom will become Air Marshals, I shouldn’t wonder.
There will be wars and A Big War is still the elephant in the room. There is much talk of living with Conflicting Ideologies. It sounds sensible until it means that the other side can move the goalposts whenever and wherever they like, and you may not. You cannot engage on such terms. So our philosophical efforts must be bent on defining the route to, and the limit of, tolerance.
Freedom is a precious asset even when hedged around with rules and regulations.
How precious is what we are about to find out.
A Very Happy and Fruitful 2021 to you and yours.
You remain in our thoughts always.