Finding optimism by embracing the unknown

24 Nov 2021

As we are now midway through ‘Lockdown 2.0’, many will be angered and frustrated, wishing an end one way or another.

Others have readjusted to their more comfortable home working arrangements. Whichever it is, a bounce has appeared.

Optimism abounds with a bounce in the economy as it continues to get back on its feet. Optimism, with the news of a vaccine lifts the spirits. I do hope I am in an early cohort of recipients.

There’s even optimism associated with the certainty that Brexit negotiations are nearing their end, although many still fear the longer term consequences. The fact that both Trump and Cummings are exiting high office has brought a further spring to some people’s step.

The US President Elect Joe Biden offers a chance to reset, taking the temperature out of a number of tricky global negotiations if nothing else. Clearly we don’t really want to see President Trump being dragged from the White House as this would be rather unseemly and embarrassing.

Come fly with me

As we draw closer to the Christmas and New Year season, there will be many reflections and retrospectives on 2020. I think we all know the kind of tone these will take. Word counting the most overused word of 2020 – “unprecedented” – will be fun.

In these unprecedented times, it would not be too unexpected to see further lockdowns put in place in 2021 as we stop/start our way back to normality, testing the efficacy of the range of vaccines which will no doubt gain clearance.

That brings us nicely onto what is or will be ‘normality’. Normality infers a type of lifestyle that represents the past, an existing condition, a steady-state. I personally do not believe that the times to come will mimick the times before.

For example, I expect we will be more tolerant of ‘state’ intrusion going forward. I anticipate that we will more readily accept top-down restrictions and surveillance, all for the greater good.

I am now in isolation for two weeks. I have already been contacted by the UK government’s coronavirus isolation assurance team. I am gladdened and comforted by this new Orwellian oversight.

In Uganda, everyone carries an ID card. Everyone also has their own personal medical card with vaccination information. Before an individual goes to the doctor, this card must be presented. Will we see a time where we also must show our medical history to gain access to services, shops, leisure facilities and airports? I would be more than happy to carry around my yellow International Certificate of Vaccinations to indicate my contagion status.

‘Healthy dose of the unknown’

Optimism and hope for the future should be accompanied with a healthy dose of the unknown. In the case of the community here in this part of Uganda, I’ve been working to introduce software and computing, despite intermittent internet provision. With some computer labs installed in schools, the children are learning a life away from growing crops in the fields. A new generation is growing up with computer skills, confident to craft their own digital lives.

Optimism for our own future, in turn, should be accompanied by embracing the unknown. The march of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to automate industrial and business practices with machine learning, delivering automation without the need for human intervention, takes us into new territory.

Embracing the next wave of technology and welcoming change may well be key to finding a new sense of purpose in an optimistic post-Covid-19 world.

by Chris Read, Chief Executive Officer at Dunstan Thomas.

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Chris Read
Chief Executive Officer at Dunstan Thomas