"We are each other’s keepers."
It is often said the young are the generation of the future. But we are not. Rather, what is true is that we are this world’s present.
More than a third of our global population is below the age of 40. By our numbers alone, there is so much that we can do together to make change work for our world.
One constant lesson from the history of humanity is that change is inevitable. In fact, change will come, whether we like it or not.
How our tomorrow will be is up to us—decisions, choices and actions that our generation will make today.
Our future will be defined not by the magnitude of our dreams or depth of our aspirations—although these too are important – but by our courage to face the odds, and the determination to make them happen.
Twelve months after the coronavirus pandemic has changed our world as we know it, so much has changed in our homes, schools and workplaces.
The inconvenient truth is that we will never be back to the way we were. There is no way for us to come back; we can only move forward.
We have yet to know whether or not this crisis will bring humanity backward or make us move forward stronger.
Whether this crisis will take or make the better of us is up to us.
This is not the first time that humanity has come face to face with a seemingly insurmountable crisis.
One thing is sure: Even the darkest clouds can have a silver lining. Even the worst of plagues has led to the most defining innovations in history.
The twelfth century Black Plague decimated the world’s population at that time by as many as 200 million deaths. This reduced the population of monks who could transcribe manuscripts by hand. These factors fueled the development of the printing press, a century later.
The 17th century pestilence wiped out a quarter of London’s population, confining its residents to their homes. It was during this time of self-isolation that the physicist Isaac Newton, while sitting idly in his country estate, saw an apple fall from the tree. He discovered the theory of gravity.
Many other innovations result from the difficult times of history: The canning of food products during the Napoleonic wars, the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison as well as the steam turbine and refrigeration after the Long Depression; the blood bank, synthetic rubber and aviation after the First World War; the computer, antibiotics and the jet engine after the Second World War.
With every crisis comes an opportunity.
What opportunity do you think will come out of this coronavirus pandemic?
Just as the many times of crisis in the past, the opportunity will come as soon as we roll our sleeves to lead in the present and drive change to our advantage.
It is interesting to note, for example, that with the shift to online platforms for work and learning, young people, even children, are able to adapt better than the adults.
What does this crisis prove to us? That our generation are more than just an unaware and naïve audience to the change happening around us—we are stakeholders not only of the future, but also of our world’s present.
This crisis proves to us that our choices matter and that our decisions have impact— a choice between self-interest and altruism and decision to be compromising or be single-minded. In the face of such a towering challenge, it is up to us whether to retreat from the opportunity of changing things for the better, or to embrace this chance to demonstrate that the new normal of doing things may be different, in some ways it might be better.
This is a question worth asking: Will we open up to a better, more resilient and responsible world, or will we bring with us the inefficient, wasteful and careless ways of the past?
What has this pandemic taught us? The truth is that whatever affects me affects others. But rather be plunged into inaction, this realization must propel us to take steps to improve ourselves, to be more, and do more for others.
The innovation that this crisis has brought is already self-evident: The promising strides of digital technology, online learning and the virtual workplace.
Think for a moment—what if the same amount of innovation, willpower or determination is channeled to the way we deal with the social challenges that beset our communities—in working to save our planet, in breaking down the walls of discrimination, in putting an end to poverty, in widening access to education and in fostering lasting peace?
What is the best way to shape a brighter future? Build a better today.
The future is now. We are far from being just the future. Our generation, too, is the present of this time. What we hope our future will be, we must shape today. In the same way, we must always be aware that the decisions we make today, the beliefs we espouse and the lifestyles that we follow will all affect the kind of world that we will live in tomorrow.
This pandemic leaves us with one sure lesson: stewardship. We are each other’s keepers. We are this planet’s keeper. In doing so, we intend to be leaders through our everyday acts of goodness. Knowing that our actions have an impact on others, we must tirelessly seek to improve ourselves in order to inspire others to be better. Let us always choose to be good and allow this same goodness to multiply.