Reasons for Optimism

Reasons for Optimism

We can choose to wake up and grumble all day and be bitter and angry and judge others and find satisfaction in others doing bad instead of good. Or we can we wake up with optimism and love and say, ‘Just what is this beautiful day going to bring me?’

— Canadian author/actress Margaret Trudeau

ACCORDING to American billionaire Bill Gates, 2021 has been the most unusual and difficult year in his storied life, and we agree that apart from the previous year of 2020, that year had a brief period of relative normalcy before the coronavirus pandemic upended everything into what we now call as the ‘new normal’—to which we all have to adapt.

Still, despite experiencing a number of big transitions and reforms in our daily routine, the truth is that it has not changed my view or the love I feel for my work. In fact, as this year comes to a close, I have sat down to think and write about some of the things that would I would consider my priorities heading into 2022.

When Microsoft was started, Bill and friend Paul Allen had a vision that personal computers would one day play a significant role in people’s lives, but both really didn’t had the slightest idea that this would lead to a future where this would be the only connection to the world. Like what we experience during this health crisis brought by the coronavirus pandemic, many of us found entire days with the only human interaction we found was through a screen.

This has resulted in the most unusual and difficult year of our lives. We were locked down inside our communities and inside our homes and there was limited mobility, so we couldn’t visit our friends and relatives nor perform ordinary tasks like going to the market and eating out without worrying about strictly following the minimum health safety protocols and fearing the threat of infection or transmission.

This year, the pandemic had dominated our lives since day one. We’ve all had to adapt to new set of rules and had to follow mandatory policies and restrictions just to ensure that we are safe and protected from Covid-19.

And we had stretches of time without any face-to-face social interaction. In my case, if I had a break from work, I’d get out of my office and go down to the garage or driveway just to see something different. After work, I’d go straight home (usually with the wife whose office was just near mine) and on reaching our abode would turn on the television, prepare dinner then eat before watching a popular series on Netflix.

This has been a strange and disorienting experience. My personal world has never felt smaller than it did over the last twelve months.

At the same time, this year was a reminder that our world is more connected than ever. 2021 was full of monumental events with global repercussions, including extreme weather events, the ongoing effects of the pandemic and China’s continued incursions into our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. Every time I watched the news, I was reminded of just how significantly something happening on the other side of the world could affect you at home. It’s never been clearer that tackling big problems requires people working together across borders and sectors.

To date, we have registered significant advances in our national vaccination program and several cities and town and even provinces have announced they have reached herd immunity in the fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 that causes the dreaded Covid-19. We are reaching full vaccination for the whole population and we appear to be curbing the spread of the deadly disease that has claimed the lives of almost 50 million Filipinos—out of the 5.27 million in the world.

This is in encouraging for us and we can see this with the steady reopening of businesses and the decrease in unemployment. We are gaining back our disrupted lives, thanks to government’s unique pandemic response and the cooperation of most of us in following the protocols for our safety and protection.

In Africa, however—where the latest mutation of SARS-Cov-2 known as the Omicron variant has been first detected—the latest statistics on Covid-19 are discouraging. Just 6 percent—about 78 million—of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated. Worldwide, by comparison 43 percent are fully vaccinated and boosters are now widely available in many countries.

Without enough vaccines available in Africa, Covid-19 marches on infecting millions of people. Even assessing the true scale of the pandemic on the continent is difficult. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) assessment estimated that only one in seven cases of Covid in the so-called Dark Continent are being detected because of a limited amount of testing.

And while many Western and Asian countries are recovering economically from the pandemic and returning to some version of normalcy, most countries in Africa continue to struggle. Disruptions to schooling, health care, and livelihoods have sunk many families deeper into poverty, leaving them without enough food and basic services.We should all be upset about this inequity. It’s critical that more should be done to get vaccines into the arms of the people at high risk for Covid, including the elderly and immune-compromised, who are living in low-income countries. (With excerpts from GatesNotes)(ai/mtvn)

Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1984. (Photo: Doug Wilson/Corbis Historical/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply