Hindsight 20/20Thursday, December 31, 2020
It’s probably fair to say that this year did not quite unfold the way anyone expected. As many have rightly pointed out, the pandemic turned a magnifying glass on many issues that existed before but got a lot worse as a result of the virus (e.g. old-folks homes and meat-packing plants, just to mention two). While some businesses saw opportunity (e.g. on-line retail and home-delivery takeout), others experienced catastrophic misfortune (e.g. hospitality and the performing arts). Not just medical practice, but countless other businesses changed their operations seemingly overnight – suddenly working virtually became a virtue!
The epidemic also magnified the fissures in our societies, some of which appear to have grown to the size of the Grand Canyon. One could not help but note interesting paradoxes. For one, the same crowd that generally calls for “law and order”, meaning that people need to follow the laws, which in turn need to be enforced, suddenly discovered the rather unlawful notion of civil disobedience by openly refusing to wear masks. The same people, who did not appear to value science or scientists, suddenly turned to science to provide the vaccine that would save the day. The same folks who support virtually unlimited budgets for arms and the military (to keep us safe-lol) – found their arsenals empty and their governments unprepared for dealing with an actual danger that scientists had long predicted and was by far more likely to occur than WW III. Interestingly, the most passionate religious and ideological “believers” discovered that it was rather easy to extend their “beliefs” to even the most unlikely conspiracy theories. I could go on, but you get the point.
On a more personal note, the year certainly turned out quite differently from what I had planned but with some interesting unexpected positive spins. Thus, although all of my heavily booked travel itinerary got cancelled, I ended up (thanks to virtual platforms) speaking to far more and far larger audiences globally than I would have, had I needed to physically travel to each event. Although I spent most of the year more or less in lockdown or in quarantine, I connected and reconnected (virtually) with more colleagues around the world than in any other year – in fact, for most of the year, my daily walk-and-talk routine was the most enjoyable part of my day. Although the many planned live events related to the (rather spectacular) launch of the Canadian Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines were cancelled, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly virtual COVID-19 and Get Real Series that I had the privilege to host, again reaching a far greater audience that we would have had with in-person events.
Ultimately, thanks to the pandemic, I have also had to reassess both my professional and personal future and I very much look forward to some significant changes in 2021 (stay tuned).
All in all, it’s been a most unusual year and, as we enter 2021, it will be interesting to see what aspects of the B.C. era (“before Corona”) will return and which will forever remain changed.
Wishing all my readers a peaceful, happy, and healthy New Year – stay safe!