Charles Dicken’s memorable line in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” could not be more apt for the year 2020. We are at a pinnacle of tremendous technical and medical wisdom yet the reckless handling of Covid-19 by world leaders is still playing out in the Americas and many parts of Europe, showing a vengeance increased from the March shutdown. As of today, the WHO site reported over 70.8M confirmed Covid-19 cases across the globe with the two front runners being the United States at 15.9M confirmed cases and India on the brink of 10 M.
The devastation of 2020 is palpable as many homes this holiday season will have a missing chair at the kitchen table, memories of friends and family, young and old, who were taken much too soon. Yet 2020 has also been the year where hope has emerged from unexpected corners of the world reassuring us of the human spirit. A 74-year-old-man from Florida just days ago decided to wipe away the unpaid utilities of 114 families that were past due, as he too had suffered this in the past and wanted to bring early holiday cheer to these struggling families. I recently spoke with the head of HR of a large sporting company in South Asia who managed to curb eminent layoffs by forgoing his travel allowance and urging other executive heads to do the same for the year 2020. He succeeded not only in keeping all employees (including retail staff ) employed in a year where stores were barely open, but also saved their health benefits.
2020 has also been a year of inspiration where the impossible, has become possible and within reach. As a proud member of SAG/AFTRA, my dream has always been to attend a workshop at one of the best acting schools in the universe, RADA. With an illustrious alumni list ranging from Albert Finney, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Vivien Leigh, to more recent stars like James Norton and Michael Sheen, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts is on any actor’s bucket list. This year, for the first time, they are offering virtual Zoom instruction where I have been delighted to join a globally diverse classroom to study Hamlet, for example, from the lead who played at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Apple fans around the world, enjoyed watching the live virtual launch of its new array of “i-candy”, formerly only possible if you were visiting the Bay Area and had an invite. Even Anna Wintour’s Forces of Fashion event, definitely off the radar for the average women, was accessible virtually at $150 and up with a guest list including Naomi Campbell, Bella Hadid, and the Creative Director of Alexander McQueen to name a few.
What I hope for the decade unfolding in front of us is that the events of 2020 instill a sense of responsibility and empathy for our fellow man where acts of generosity and good deeds become part of the fabric of society. I also want to believe that despite the tough times, the adjustment to a new normal life with less travel and much more caution, we don’t forget our dreams or lose hope in the power of mankind.