“We become what we think about.” — Earl Nightingale
We’re all futurologists now as we reinvent and create our future. Though this may always have been so, how we think, innovate and imagine now seems more important than ever.
I was asked to write a book review of “COVID-19 and World Order: The Future of Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation” by Hal Brands and Francis Gavin, part of a Johns Hopkins University think tank group with multiple contributors from a broad array of disciplines.
Their deeply thoughtful essays explore and put into context what most of us have already figured out: The world has changed. Not since the major world wars of the past century has such a radical realignment of our lives and the lives of our fellow co-habitants of spaceship Earth evolved and so quickly.
Every aspect of world order has changed: education, work, commerce, diplomacy, environment, travel, communications, food security, international relations and trade, transportation, technology, family dynamics and, of course, public health.
Call me an eternal, cock-eyed optimist, but I think our greatest opportunities are now before us. Carpe diem, seize the day. Any crisis creates possibilities.
Our innate intelligence and adaptability as humans will spur new and better approaches to surviving and, yes, thriving. We’ve already seen this with new entrepreneurial ventures by those locked out of their former occupations, with revisions in all levels of education, how we regularly meet online, organizations rapidly abandoning costly and now risky travel, how the growing trend to shopping online has supersized. The list goes on.
In the area of health care, for example, massive momentum has moved vaccine development light years ahead of the slow process that often took a decade, compressing that research into a few months. Telehealth visits, a rarity before the pandemic, have become a safe and welcome option, especially for at-risk seniors, those with high-risk chronic conditions or who are immunocompromised.
Increased use of home-based monitoring and wearable technology, cloud-connected interfaces of medical equipment, and expanded algorithms offering best practices for management of acute and chronic diseases are all accelerating and becoming more widely adopted.
Though Dr. Google won’t replace the MD degree anytime soon, the public increasingly searches such databases for answers to important and sometimes sensitive health questions. Please always confirm your impressions and online guidance with a trusted health professional for your own safety.
Our imagination, creativity, problem-solving skills and a “can-do” attitude are the keys to co-creating a new tomorrow, a brighter and better future. Let’s do this together.
And as we celebrated an extremely different kind of Thanksgiving Day, let us affirm and believe that our path forward is built on gratitude for those people and things we already have. Focusing gratefully on the gifts we have, we become magnets for ever greater good for all of us.
“Tomorrow belongs to those of us who conceive of it as belonging to everyone; who lend the best of ourselves to it, and with joy.” — Audre Lorde
Dr. Victor S. Sierpina is the WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at UTMB.