Monday came down like a ton of bricks. January 4 was the Mother of All Mondays. It was the first Monday and the first business day of 2021, the year that finally assigns the disastrous 2020 to history and the rearview mirror forever.
After the brief holiday respite, when the New Year’s reveling dies down and the weekend winds to a close, I always feel like I’ve been thrown headlong into the New Year and find myself suddenly well into January. Never more than this year.
Back to serious business, and some grim realities lingering from 2020. COVID has made clear that it doesn’t respect boundaries, and that includes the boundary between 2020 and 2021.
But there are good signs: 2021 is going to be a good year. That’s my prediction. There are many reasons to believe this. It’s not just pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. We are going to get past the Coronavirus this year.
We had the means to do it without the vaccines, as many other countries have done. But now we have an ace in the hole. We’ll have the vaccines to pack a knockout punch. If we adopt common sense public health measures, and individually follow the protocols of masking, distancing, hand washing and contact tracing, now that we have vaccines to pull us out of this deep hole, we will get beyond this.
The positive trends I see are already in progress.
The Federal Drug Administration expects to authorize two more anti-COVID-19 vaccines in February and April. That will make four that are available. Many people have been vaccinated already. For them, life can begin again.
At the time of this writing, 4.5 million have had their first shot of a COVID vaccination. About 200,000 people are being vaccinated every day. That number is expected to grow to a million per day soon. But right now, there are 200,000 more people every day ready to go back out into the world, to resume social life, business, and travel. Progress is taking place on a daily basis. One of the top reasons people will line up to get the vaccine is so they can travel again. And they will, in droves.
I have no doubt about that. When you’ve been vaccinated, you can go virtually anywhere. It’s happening. The world is beginning to wake up from the COVID nightmare.
The New World
In America, we will defeat the COVID pandemic this year. A return to our previous normal is impossible. Instead we must build a new world on the ruins of 2020. We don’t have the choice to return to our previous status quo. And I find that to be an exciting prospect.
Given that we had to struggle to survive through 2020, we might as well enjoy whatever benefits the situation produces. One substantial benefit is that, as we get rolling again, we are going to see the fruits of all the innovations people and businesses were forced to make to survive 2020.
Necessity, the old Mother of Invention, came down on us hard this year. But we learned. We adapted. We innovated. And we survived. What did not kill us made us stronger. In this case, those are not just empty words.
As we move beyond the debilitating phase of the pandemic, we will be able to put our new insights, concepts, systems and methods to work in the new environment, a world in which people can get back to work, and move about again.
Once we are freed from the tyranny of COVID, the massive pent-up demand to get out and go will be released. I am expecting a kind of Renaissance, a new Golden Age. I expect travel to be the leading edge in this Renaissance, but it will extend far beyond the travel industry.
Tempered by Trials
I am not ignoring the enormous problems we are faced with. I don’t expect a world free of trouble and strife. But that’s okay because that’s the way it is on earth. As David Byrne wrote: “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.”
I don’t expect us to be walking the streets of gold of Paradise, but I do predict a creative blossoming of both economics and culture from the unleashing of the creative powers of an entire population forced for the last year to dig deeply into their own personal resources – just to survive through the COVID onslaught.
I don’t predict a peaceful year, but I do see it as a big rebound from the depths of the COVID crisis. It’s a time of change, and I find that exciting. The COVID pandemic will mark the cusp of a new age, a new period. It has to.
I have great faith in the innovative capacities of human beings. So I am optimistic about our prospects, now that our survival instincts have been unleashed with such force in response to this global crisis.
It’s too soon to clearly see the effect of billions of people around the world simultaneously experiencing a massive disaster. No other event in history has drawn such near unanimous attention across the globe. It brought virtually the entire world to a common point of focus in the face of a deadly threat.
That, in itself, created a new level of global self awareness. It has forced upon us an understanding that the human species, in spite of our many quarrels, does share a base of commonality. At our base, we are essentially the same. COVID hit us at that base, that level of humanity where we are all the same. COVID does not discriminate. I believe that good things will come from this new global self awareness of the human species. In some future time, historians will be able to plot how COVID changed the course of human history. It’s up to us to make it a good change.
The economic damage this last year has been harsh. It’s hard to measure how much permanent damage has been left in COVID’s path of destruction. But economics is always a story of adaptability. When crisis arouses the survival instincts, it unleashes the awesome powers of human creativity. The extent of the damage can be an indicator of how much creativity will have been generated. The new economy will be built on the ruins of the previous one.
Creative business people will be discovering new opportunities in a lively new period of economic reconstruction as we emerge from the COVID depression.
So, I am looking forward to this year. There’s a lot to be hopeful for. I’ve seen people rally during this time of crisis. It has brought out the best in people, and that has been reassuring. That’s part of the new strength we have now going forward.
We paid some dues.
David Cogswell is a freelance writer working remotely, from wherever he is at the moment. Born at the dead center of the United States during the last century, he has been incessantly moving and exploring for decades. His articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Fox News, Luxury Travel magazine, Travel Weekly, Travel Market Report, Travel Agent Magazine, TravelPulse.com, Quirkycruise.com and other publications. He is the author of four books and a contributor to several others. He was last seen somewhere in the Northeast U.S.