What will change in the new year? Well, everything—or not so much. The whole world connected for a moment over the dreaded coronavirus. We saw what leaders and nations are made out of. And what’s perhaps more important, we were reminded of how united we are at the end of the day. Scientists broke records developing a vaccine within a year. That’s no small feat for science or humankind.
The pandemic exposed our worst and our best at the same time. Icelanders can be proud of their politicians, who listened to top scientists when needed. But we were also reminded of how underfunded our health system is. Icelanders of my generation have been raised up to believe it was the best in the world. It is not. The reason is decades of politicians underfunding the system in hope of privatising it bit by bit.
The pandemic is also a rude awakening to the fact that the whole world can be flipped upside down in a matter of weeks. Nothing stays the same forever. It’s a simple sentence to write down, but no one understands fully until we’ve been slapped across the face with it.
Soon, the hope is that the virus will seem like a distant dream. That everything and everyone will get back on their feet. That tourism will come back. That we will be able to visit our loved ones when we want. And that the economy will bloom.
It will be easy to put this behind us and keep on going like nothing ever happened. But this is when the real work starts. We have to reorganize how we are doing things. Global warming is still on the rise. The gap between the rich and the poor is still growing. And the importance of good health care that can take care of our brothers and sisters can’t be underestimated. This our wake up call. And from what I have seen and read and experienced myself in this pandemic, I’m more optimistic than pessimistic. Let’s wake up, do the work and make a better world in memory of those that have died from COVID-19.
Merry Christmas and happy new year. Thank you all for reading our magazine and supporting the Reykjavík Grapevine.
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