The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Eddie Adelman is a writer who lives in Belfast.
I subscribe to the saying, “The only constant in life is change.” And never has that statement held more weight than in the last two years.
I don’t need to tell you how difficult and challenging the last few years have been. We’ve given a whole new meaning to the word “pivot.”
But perhaps the greatest pivot of all lies in front of us. How will we maneuver from a COVID world to a post-COVID world?
And even though COVID is not likely to be fully eradicated, the stress and fear of the darkest days are hopefully behind us (fingers crossed).
So once again, what will the post-COVID transformation look like? Are we even capable of going back to the “normal” life that we once knew? Or has that ship sailed forever?
If, in fact, that ship has sailed, where will the new ship take us? And that’s really the $64,000 question, isn’t it?
But before we tackle that, it might be a good idea to look at previous calamitous events to see how the world fared afterward.
When that meteor struck earth 66 million years ago, it was bad news for the dinosaurs. But as the dinosaurs died out, the small mammals and plants that survived blossomed and evolved into the world we know today.
Or as Bob Dylan wrote, “The slow one now will later be fast.”
The Black Death was without question the most fatal pandemic the world has ever known. It’s estimated that up to 200 million people died as a result of contracting it.
But there was a silver lining. Scientists have documented that human life spans actually increased after the plague. The plague also led to the end of feudalism and helped bring about the separation of church and state. Also, the cultural and social advances would lay the groundwork for the Renaissance.
So, what will be the lasting legacy of COVID? What kind of picture will history paint of this pandemic? And perhaps equally important, how will history paint the aftermath?
Just before the pandemic hit, the divide in this country was wider than any I can remember in my lifetime, including the Vietnam era.
A few years ago, I actually thought that the only way out of the mess was for aliens to show up and threaten our very existence. Surely both sides would stop fighting each other and focus on defeating the common enemy.
Then COVID hit. Forget the aliens. This was the common enemy that would rally us to put aside our differences and focus on our shared number one value — survival.
What was I thinking? As it turns out, that divide has only widened, with both sides digging their heels in even deeper.
But what if we flip the script?
What if we see this rare moment in time as an opportunity to turn this lemon into lemonade? What if each of us takes a deep breath and asks the unthinkable question, “What if I’m wrong?”
Are any of us even capable of that? I hope so. Because as it stands right now, fighting the good fight is not a winning strategy. Both sides are losing.
Moving forward, what if we go big and create a bold new normal focused on listening rather than shouting? Compromise rather than confrontation.
And perhaps in doing so, we can lay the groundwork for our very own renaissance.
Or we can go the way of the dinosaurs, having fought the good fight.