In Melbourne hotel quarantine, having travelled the world meeting beautiful people in my home country and en route on my way back through clouds high up above that watch over the world in an all-protective manner, I recall the Maori proverb “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata” (“What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people”).

As I yesterday set foot on the Tullamarine Airport tarmac on an evening still basking in soft sunshine after a hot day in the city voted as one of the most liveable on the planet several years in a row, I experience a 40-degree difference between Sweden and Australia ̶ daunting and awesome all at once. The bus transports us to our temporary home; the assigned quarantine hotel, and as darkness falls I reflect on how, despite individual differences, we are still united across the globe. What makes the world go round is, indeed, its people. Living history by traveling through a cautious world and having already watched an epic moment with the presidential inauguration of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., I join all my fellow world citizens out there on this amazing planet whose lifeline and guiding star is Hope. The president in the making was boosted celebratorily by Lady Gaga. As she was handed the golden mike from its partial namesake Mike Pence, his gesture became symbolic and itself reflective of new times to come: a human rights activist and icon for the gay community assisted by a former representative of an administration targeting LGBTI supporters. As the ground-breaking singer-songwriter burst into a solemn yet majestic rendition of the National Anthem in honour of the American people, the ideals adhered to in the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights: civil rights and individual liberties — freedom of speech, press, and religion, started to gain new importance. We are witnessing the end of an era and the beginning of a new; one where new hope is injected in a democracy only recently under attack but now about to be revived. The Great American Nation is steered in a direction where insight and real professionalism rule the day.

This year for the world also beyond US borders promises hopeful development, with vaccines being administered as we speak and people beginning to find their feet again. We have entered an era where we must stand united in a common goal of bettering ourselves and the world at large ̶ for, alas, divided we fall. The success of 2021 is dependent on the many insights gained from 2020 ̶  new reflections and a reappreciation of what matters most ̶ insights that must continue to guide us, allowing for more mature decision-making processes and ways of people relating to others. 2020 arrived for a reason and 2021 is not isolated from its recent past.

I welcome 22 January 2021 in Melbourne quarantine watching the sun rise between dark buildings outside my hotel window. Gazing into apartments opposite my building, the titles Life of Others and Rear Window immediately come to mind. I look in but I am not there, yet there is a connection. And in this very moment, the connection also happens between fiction and reality.

Melbourne 22 January 2021. Image Jytte Holmqvist

As we keep leading our own lives, when we reflect on humanity from a broader perspective we realise we are not that different and that we come together in a set of shared human values: the need for common decency and to be treated with respect, the hope for better opportunities, and the yearning for an enlightened world where we take real accountability and responsibility for our actions. United we stand and united we rise, “He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata!”