Where Are We Going?

It is time to contemplate that question, to think through what got us here and what sort of world we’ll have, and to set to work crafting the future we want to have. The following quote comes from the end of an article in “The Atlantic” published on March 25. Like The Hammer and the Dance that I highlighted last Friday, How the Pandemic Will End was written by a young, upcoming science writer, Ed Wong. I take solace that members of the next generation are speaking in such clear voices. We should take heed. Here are the ending three paragraphs:

“One could easily conceive of a world in which most of the nation believes that America defeated COVID-19. Despite his many lapses, Trump’s approval rating has surged. Imagine that he succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero. During the second term of his presidency, the U.S. turns further inward and pulls out of NATO and other international alliances, builds actual and figurative walls, and disinvests in other nations. As Gen C [current youth living the pandemic] grows up, foreign plagues replace communists and terrorists as the new generational threat.

One could also envisage a future in which America learns a different lesson. A communal spirit, ironically born through social distancing, causes people to turn outward, to neighbors both foreign and domestic. The election of November 2020 becomes a repudiation of “America first” politics. The nation pivots, as it did after World War II, from isolationism to international cooperation. Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy. The U.S. leads a new global partnership focused on solving challenges like pandemics and climate change.

In 2030, SARS-CoV-3 emerges from nowhere, and is brought to heel within a month.”

Those two futures stand in stark contrast. Let us strive to make the second future the one we build–and reject a future of xenophobia, blind nationalism, suspicion, strife, and rejection of science currently embedded in our national politics. We need to create the future of cooperation, speak of it to all who will listen, and support those who share the vision, support them on their way to the November Election.

I encourage you to read Mr. Wong’s entire article. Like many newspapers and periodicals, “The Atlantic” has suspended its paywall for coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. In a political climate where some wish to make an icon of walls, celebrate the symbolism of lowering this one. Here’s the raw link to the article, “How the Pandemic Will End”:


Keep to the high ground,