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Cautious optimism

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2020 - 12:00am

This holiday season has looked very different from the ones we are used to. Usually, the end of the year sees most people taking a well-deserved break from a hectic and productive year of work to spend time with their loved ones, attend a slew of holiday parties, take trips, and excitedly gear up for the year ahead.

This was far from the case this year. Unless you lived in time of the global wars, this year was most likely the hardest year of your life. Even for those that have seen hard times this may have still been the hardest year because this year we fought a foe we couldn’t see, could barely understand, and one that was spreading across the world faster and more furiously than any army before it.

I think the global pandemic has truly changed the world. Before COVID-19, when people faced hardships, we mourned, we expressed rage, and we picked ourselves up and moved forward. This was usually possible through the strength and love of those around us. Friends and family made moving forward and fighting on possible.

Coronavirus took that support and those connections away from us. For the first time ever we weren’t allowed to see one another, to congregate in big groups, to be around those who give us strength when we need it the most. Never in our lifetime have we come to appreciate how a simple hug can change a bad day until 2020 made hugs next to impossible.

Whether we flourished in the time of coronavirus or struggled to just make it through, we all share one thing in common, we are forever changed. Even as we strive to move forward and overcome we will never look at the world in the same way again. A simple cough or a cold or fever will be greeted with fear and suspicion for many years to come.

They say that it took roughly seven years for the world to recover from the Spanish Flu - I have no doubt we are looking at a similar timeframe for us, made shorter only because of the impact of the global vaccination efforts. We definitely have better scientific capabilities now and the vaccine may help move along the world’s recovery, but the emotional trauma will remain and that will take years to heal.

We need to be realistic as well. The pandemic has made many things abundantly clear. Even with vaccine efforts underway, it will take time for the country to heal. We are in major debt and we have yet to see a concrete plan or strategic roadmap forward. At this point it’s just never ending lockdown. If there’s something we learned during COVID-19 it’s that good and solid united governance is important to be able to effectively help a country manage hardships and successfully make it through obstacles.

Additionally unity, in general, is something that is sorely lacking the world and something that we really need to be able to avoid this happening again in the future. A world that is more united and less divisive will be more open to communitcation and honesty. That’s not quite where we are now but hopefully in time, awareness will grow and self-centered cognitive dissonance will decrease.

On the positive side, the virus has also revealed how much we have it in ourselves to help one another. Big companies in the private sector stepped forward to help Filipinos by providing food, water, and essential services. Even individual people came together to do what they could to help one another. It’s the first time the sense of community took centerstage again and that’s a silver lining.

So as we come to the end of an extremely challenging and very difficult year, we take a moment to say a prayer for those we lost along the way. I don’t think I have ever sent so many condolencdes in one year. We remain thankful for those that our still with us and for our own health. We approach 2021 with cautious optimism and hope and pray for better days ahead.

So Happy New Year everyone. Ring in the new year safely. Virtually sending everyone well wishes and let’s all hope against hope that 2021 is going to better and brighter.

COVID-19
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