Column: Challenging Times, New Opportunities

March 20, 2020

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

March 19, 2020 is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. On this day, the sun appears directly over the equator. It’s a time of renewal; new growth.

Here in the midst of this pandemic – a challenge unmatched for generations – this milestone offers a time for reflection. The cedar provides us a unique perspective on new growth.

When ripe, loquats fall to moist soil, giving their seeds a good chance to germinate. If cedarberries, on the other hand, simply fall on moist soil, their seeds normally won’t germinate. However, when cedarberries are eaten whole by birds, their gizzards remove the tough seed-coatings. When those roughed-up seeds are eliminated by the birds, they will easily germinate as cedar seedlings.

The symbolic lesson offered by cedars demonstrate that challenging times can open up opportunities for renewal; new growth. Depending on our perspective, the pandemic is offering an opportunity for renewal.

What might that look like? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rather than reacting to rough times, we can use it to open to new possibilities.
  • Grow an appreciation for our global community, the whole human family.
  • Leverage all available lessons.

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of appreciating global connections. The World Health Organization [WHO] has provided key resources and leadership as the global family navigates these difficult waters. As this new virus emerged in a province of China in late December, those difficult lessons provided the WHO with data to develop a protocol that is being shared around the world and here in Bermuda.

Note that on March 17th, China announced 22 new cases of Covid-19. Twenty-one of those persons had recently returned but there was only one locally-based case. Of course, while this statistic is encouraging, there is the possibility the trend may turn back around.

Out of these rough times we are obliged to adapt to the restricted circumstances. So that business and government offices are having to use technology to work from home on a substantial scale. This will no doubt result in staff members growing their skill with IT.

Public and private schools are having to ramp up distance-learning, building on the number of prototype online learning platforms. Successful programs such as Kahn Academy at the K-12 level and EDX at the undergraduate and graduate levels have evolved over several years, demonstrating substantial positive results.

This crisis, no doubt, has its downside. However, we do have the opportunity to turn what looks like a tragedy by leveraging an evolution in our school system. Imagine the whole island being considered the school, with every family having access to a collaborative network, fostering personal renewal for young and old.

A 17-year-old high school student from Washington State is demonstrating the potential of renewal offered by the internet by teaching himself coding. As a result, teen Avi Schiffmann has created a website – used by 3 million visitors – which monitors the global impact of Covid-19, with data harvested from WHO and national health agencies.

We all will be spending a great deal of time at home and will have the opportunity to renew ourselves in any number of ways.

For the benefit for ourselves and that of the global family; let’s choose wisely.

- Glenn Fubler


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