How the Pandemic is Launching a New Renaissance (again)
What Goes Down, Sometimes Comes Up Higher
In the grip of the pandemic, many of us looked to the heavens and cast a wish to do things differently if we should make it through this dark hour.
We’d say “yes” more to people, to challenges, to artistic expression, to going for our dreams.
Now, starting in America, as vaccines squelch the fire of the virus, people are getting that “second chance.”
And it’s not the first time this happened. In fact, one of the greatest transformations in world history occurred following one of the worst pandemics of all: the Black Death.
After that plague ravaged civilization, social order was completely transformed, which scholars believe set the stage for the Renaissance.
We’re talking Michelangelo sculpting, da Vinci designing, Columbus sailing the ocean blue searching for new trade routes, and Galileo unleashing the scientific method.
“After the Black Death, nothing was the same,” Gianna Pomata told the New Yorker. Pomata, a retired professor at Johns Hopkins’ Institute of the History of Medicine, said he now expects something just as dramatic to happen. “Because of danger, there’s this wonderful human response, which is to think in a new way.”
And what is this “new way” the pandemic has brought us?
I see four major changes that pave the road to our transformation.
More time and space to pursue new ventures. This is largely from the work-at-home revolution.
The pandemic forever entrenched the online world as a safe-haven. Working at home became the new norm. People used to spend a lot of time getting ready for work and then commuting to a remote office. With Zoom meetings becoming the norm, people only have to get “dressed” from the waist up and didn’t need to drive anywhere.
This added time and space let people develop ideas and side-projects they’ve always dreamed of doing. This is how great social movements occur, when a new class of people can suddenly pursue ventures that previously seemed unreachable.
Mo’ money. The Black Death killed so many people that land and resources suddenly became abundant to many more people. While Corona didn’t amass the death toll of the plague, it just as radically changed how we work, shop, socialize and even how we think.
Workers became merchants and merchants soon became the new “royalty.” Today, we have a labor shortage which means some workers are getting paid more. Throw on top of that the “stimmy” checks going out, and that’s more cash than many have seen in a long time. Some are using the extra funds to launch new ventures and create new innovations.
Second-chance Syndrome. This is the only term I can fathom to describe the feeling so many share as society re-opens to go for their dreams.
“Dreams” are often longings of the soul to do better with the life we’ve been given. They often involve helping others, innovating old ways of doing things and creating artistic expressions only imagined before the Days of Corona.
In fact, many reading this article joined Medium during the pandemic (like me) just to have a new outlet of expression.
Scientific Breakthroughs. The mRNA vaccine (as manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna) could be the breakthrough of the century. Being able to essentially send messages to our cells to do things like produce the Corona protein and then create antibodies for it, are astonishing.
New companies are springing up almost daily devoted to advancing mRNA uses, and there’s even a glimmer of hope that one day the technology could cure cancer by teaching our body how to attack tumors more efficiently.
Spirituality Gets a Boost This Time. During the Black Death, many accused religious authorities of abusing their power and having “cures” that fell flat. This eroded trust in institutions.
However, our 21st Century pandemic actually saw churches become a place of hope (as they were allowed to re-open) and many gained a new sense of community and a renewed faith that carried them out of the darkness. People also confronted the reality of death more head-on, which always leads to spiritual introspection and often epiphany.
How to Get In on This
Forgive yourself for any ways you fell short during the pandemic. Regret and shame are not the frequencies of the New Renaissance. It’s time to embrace acceptance, innovation and collaboration.
It’s time to think positive, to imagine the best outcomes after a year of envisioning the worst. It’s time for discipline coupled with exuberance to believe amazing things can happen, and then to do them.
As the pandemic subsides, the coming years will no doubt blow many minds, and all of us left are cordially invited to this miraculous mask-free party that is the New Renaissance.