Memes flood our chat groups and pervade the social media pages of our friends, families, and colleagues castigating 2020 as an abysmal anomaly. Kenyans join the world in lamenting how our lives could have, would have, and should have turned out this calendar year if Covid-19 had not upended our sense of safety, economic wellbeing, and recreational choices with cataclysmic results.
An entire nation’s children losing a year of their lives by repeating their primary or secondary school years that will come with staggering life and economic costs to the country for the next 40 years. Total and complete collapses of certain industries and all the stakeholders affected.
Wretched mixed-message communication inaccuracies that wrought mass confusion across the globe from masks or no masks, ineffective treatments including hydroxychloroquine to garlic to honey to acidic products among dozens of others, to fearful and unclear procedures for quarantining and self-isolation all that led billions to feel unprepared to soldier on and fight the coronavirus spread with accurate scientific facts.
Amidst the rubble brought on by the pandemic, human psychology falls into negativity spirals whereby we pay more attention to adverse news and events while completely missing positive incidents and the silver lining of situations. The human mind holds on to negative information four times longer than positive evidence of the same magnitude.
In order to counter our negativity bias, we must intentionally recalibrate our brains periodically to explicitly notice and be grateful for the good going on around us.
First, we see billions of caring people throughout the world purposefully trying to protect and therefore avoiding contact with at-risk populations including the elderly and immunocompromised. Has everyone in the populace abided by social distancing and targeted isolation from such individuals? Certainly not. But astonishing numbers of people have thus far been saved by the billions who have indeed abided by safety measures.
Second, we see the force for good that can come from governments. Authorities from Africa to Asia to the Americas to the Pacific and on to Europe all scrambled and mostly, with a few notable exceptions, trying to earnestly and intensely defend and protect their own citizens with policies, procedures, purchasing, and scientific medical and vaccine research. Governments who failed to act on behalf of their citizens will, over time, become less likely to survive their people’s wrath as a result of poor pandemic responses.
Third, the world awoke and took on an extreme amplified interest in science. From all things health sciences-related including virology and medical solutions as well as knowledge of the scientific method involved in medical research. Also, peaked interest in evolutionary biology now proliferates as news organisations publish stories of how the coronavirus mutates, but slower than other viruses. Further, zoology gained added curiosity as billions of global citizens investigate online how a virus can jump and mutate between species.
Covid-19, therefore, will likely spurn an entire generation towards more probable studies and careers in the Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, specifically sciences. Harnessing the collective power of millions more young people entering scientific and medical fields will unleash positive outcomes whereby the benefits from inventions, cures, solutions, and reimaging existing paradigms will be favourably felt for likely hundreds of years.
Fourth, the State of business and enterprise will never be the same. A generation of executives and entrepreneurs now became painfully aware that business models exist in hyper-dynamic states that need quick immediate repositioning, innovation, and creativity. Expect this mindset to improve business product and service delivery efficiency for decades to come as consumers become the net beneficiaries.
Yes, the Covid-19 reality comes with a deluge of negative consequences. But, let us all not lose sight of largescale societal improvements that will occur in the future as the coronavirus’ immediate negative impact starts to dampen.