I return to my office at my organization on September 20, 2021. It will have been 18 months since the lockdown started. Some people would like everything to return to how things were before the pandemic. Many people recognize that things will never be the same again.
We learned so much about ourselves during this time period. We learned about how fragile democracy can be, and the ability for leaders to inspire us or divide us in troubled times. With a pandemic that disproportionately affected minorities and systemic violence that resulted in protests last year, we saw how far we have to go to give people equal access to healthcare and opportunities. Modern science proved to be incredible in finding a vaccine in such a short time when it is focused on a singular problem. By working remotely, we also learned new skills that could be useful in providing flexibility in where we work and when.
My family has changed completely. Over the past year, I’ve been at home while my wife has commuted to work at John Hopkins to help with the crisis. While we’ve had awesome childcare, I’ve improved my skills at helping my kids as they wake up and when they go to bed. We lost several members of my family in India to the crisis; most of my connections there are gone. However, I am acutely aware of how lucky we’ve been through these challenging times. I was never in danger of losing my job. No one in my immediate family got sick. We had access to a vaccine soon after they were available.
The new normal can be better than the old normal. The lucky should support the less fortunate. We should take the best of what we discovered during the pandemic and improve the way we live, work, and learn together. Most importantly, we should prepare for the next crisis without forgetting about this one.