Lessons from the Pandemic

The pandemic is never completely ended, but most of us have returned to normal life, knowing that getting Covid is now more like getting the flu and for most of us, It’s not likely to be fatal. However, the pandemic has taught us some important lessons.

  1. Things go better when we cooperate.  Getting shots and wearing masks don’t just protect me, they also protect everyone else from me. We are all in this together.Sometimes teh government is a useful way of facilitating cooperation, and that’s not a bad thing.
  2. Electronic communication is very useful, but it is a complement, not a substitute, for in-person presence.  We have five senses.  Zoom gives us two, hearing and sight.  We don’t expect to smell or taste each other, at least not in public, but there is something meaningful about touch, even if it’s only an elbow bump.  Being physically present is a very different experience form seeing people online.  Body language is clearer and communication is more direct. It’s easier to break up into subgroups, and to move from one group to another. Groups that have resumed meeting in person seemed much more appreciative of the company of others whether it was at work, play, church, school, or social gatherings.
  3. Having said that, Zoom and Google Meet have become an important part of our lives, and remain very useful for gathering people together from disparate spaces from short periods of time. Other software like Slack also enables speedy and focused communications via the internet.
  4. The workplace will never be the same.  While some jobs always did and always will require physical presence, there is a whole lot work from home at least a few days a week that is especially helpful for people who have lives—spouses, children, community involvement.  Flexibility and hybrid work situations save commuting costs, make workers happier, and reduce the need for so much expensive office space.
  5. We learned to appreciate essential workers—nurses, caregivers, first responders, teachers.  Hopefully we will remember how essential they were and are when it comes time to consider they wages and working conditions.
  6. Some of us may have learned to appreciate the value of solitude, which is different from loneliness.  Spending time alone or at least at home can help us get better acquainted with ourselves and family members and encourage us to try out new experiences.
  7. Science doesn’t have all the answers, but it does know how to look for them.  Science is something we learn as we go.  The speed with which the vaccine was developed and distributed is mind-boggling. The investments we make in scientific research can have big payoffs in terms of human flourishing.

If we are mindful, or lucky, or reflective, maybe we can take those lessons with us on the next stages of our life journeys.