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The Day the Planet Paused


It was the start of a new decade for the world—2020, which in the English language also means the possession of perfect vision. Except that no one, other than some scientists, clearly saw what was coming. Relentless and inevitable—and seemingly inexhaustible—the coronavirus upended life as nearly all of humanity knew it. How we worked, played, loved, ate, dreamed: everything changed, including our understanding of what was truly important.

Because we had to physically stop so many things, the pandemic put the planet on pause. And pausing—in music, in meditation, in breathing—is a useful, restorative exercise.

This is our opportunity now to pause and reimagine how we really want the future to be. Millions of workers are successfully telecommuting. How should we use this shift to redefine working in the future? With aircraft and cruise ships idle and fewer cars clogging highways, global emissions have improved. Now that we can literally see the difference in the images from space, why not rethink now what clean transportation and responsible vacationing truly mean? 

One of the great strengths of cities—their ability to bring thousands or millions of people together—proved to be one of their gravest weaknesses. How do we reconfigure them, both their physical and civil infrastructures? And how does it become safe for humans to do what we are programmed to do—gravitate to one another?

Now is the time, after The Pause, to reimagine humanity for the future. We have to do it right, now. And we must start to act right now.