What happens now, and what’s next?

Tony Frost

The whole world over, people, organisations and governments are trying to figure out the navigation route for the path ahead.

This is no easy task, given the level of uncertainty that abounds at all levels in society.

Arguably, the most prominent certainty, is uncertainty. This makes decision-making and strategising awfully difficult.

This may be, but it is disingenuous to leave the future to chance. The future will happen whether we attempt to anticipate it or not.

One thing is certain though. Life will not be a “return to normal” situation.

As we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, it should not be thought of as a restart of what was, but rather as a “great reset.”

The word great is used intentionally, because of the massive impact that the crisis has had on all societies in all parts of the world, and at every level in society.

Billions of people have had their lives turned upside down, as to be almost unrecognisable from what it was at the beginning of 2020.

There can be no going back to what was. Equally, there can be no going forward as though nothing has changed.

This has not been a push of an enormous “Pause” button. It has rather been the push of an equally large ‘Stop’ button.

We need to rethink the future. But we cannot just ignore our shared and extensive past.

Hence the need for a “Great Reset”.

We need to take the best of our past and create a future that is better for all, and create a much more equitable and kinder society.

We all need to think about what we want to be when we come out. And we need to be thinking about it now and not wait until the crisis is over.

If we do that, the chances are that we will likely slip back into our old ways, including the bad habits of over-consumption, self-indulgence and greed, with no thought for the future and for our children and grandchildren.

The stark reality that we all face is that climate change is going to be an even greater and more permanent crisis than Covid-19 at its worst, unless we make the changes we feel now, permanent.

Unless we agree to live simpler, more caring lives.

One of the big lessons the world has learned, is that these big events like Covid-19 cannot be tackled in isolation; no single country can crack this challenge.

We have had to work together, and we have discovered that we are much better and stronger working together than trying to go it alone.

Just look at what is happening in Brazil and the USA, to see what happens when you arrogantly think you need the help of no one else…

Obfuscation and hiding the truth does not work in a situation like this. Social media and civil society’s heightened awareness and activism will not allow it.

So, what have we learned over the past three months?

We have learned that people matter, and that working together we can have a significant impact on the way politicians think and behave.

Just think about the impact of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Civil society must be much more vocal about what we want, and not allow politicians to hijack the future. It is far too precious.

We have learned that we do not need an office to get the job done.

Many companies have already radically altered their view of the importance, or lack thereof, of offices for everyone.

We have learned a new way of working, and this will permeate through to the future.

The cafeteria and water cooler will become less important sources of news and gossip. Now it will mostly happen on social media for all and sundry to see.

We have learned that technology has moved with warp speed, and will probably continue to do so.

Jobs will be lost, but new jobs will also be created. Almost everyone’s job will have changed, and adjustments to this new way of working will be huge.

Retraining and upskilling will be the name of the game for those companies that wish to stay ahead of the game, or even just to stay in the game.

We have learned that we must care. It is not a choice. Of course, there will always be the selfish and self-indulgent.

But society at large has learned that caring is at the heart of our survival, and, probably, also our thrival, once this crisis has passed.

Be assured that this is not the last crisis we will have to face. The more we learn to work together the better we will manage the future and whatever crises the cosmos throws at us.

Finally, maybe, just maybe, we have become more aware of the environment, and that we are at its mercy.

Maybe, also, we have also learned that the better we care for it, the better it will care for us.

Tony Frost is an author and former head of WWF at its head office in Stellenbosch – and was a regular contributor to Bolander.He shall be resuming a monthly column. Tony can be reached at tony@siroccostrateegy.com