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Is it tomorrow yet?
Written by David Gaffney, partner
9 January 2020
In his extended essay on Covid-19, Is It Tomorrow Yet?, the Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev observes judiciously how “the strangeness of the pandemic experience is that everything changes but nothing happens”.
Many of us returned to work (or, at least, reopened laptops at home) this week after a brief festive hiatus in which not much happened but everything changed. It didn’t take long for some of the optimism of a new year to be knocked out of us by the realism that there are still some hard yards to cover before this pandemic experience is something to be reflected upon retrospectively, as opposed to endured in real time.
But endure it we must, and as difficult as it can be to keep your eyes on the horizon, it is there that we are most likely to find the hope inherent in progress made and lessons learned.
At Charlotte Street Partners, in the early part of this year we are focusing our minds on strategies for the aftermath, with new events, content, products, and services designed to support individuals and organisations through this next phase of change and reassessment.
As ever, we hope you find the team’s selection of the best commentary and content from the last week or so both stimulating and useful as you continue to navigate the difficult journey that is staying at home as much as possible.
1. The future has changed
The pandemic has brought with it many enforced changes to our lives, but not all of them have been so bad. Kids interrupting team meetings and cats walking across computer screens – those small moments of authenticity could be the fuel of our future, Mary Meehan argues. All of us have an important role to play in that and here Meehan explains how.
Read in Forbes.
2. Meet the teenage executives
One striking innovation of modern meritocracy is the teenage business executive. High-school students used to enhance university and college applications with extracurricular activities like student council membership but today’s overachievers are increasingly adding terms like “founder and CEO” to their CVs. Does this slightly unnerving phenomenon stem from mere adolescent ambition or is it a dystopian function of our current ‘survival of the fittest’ system? We’ll let you decide.
Read in The New Yorker.
3. A glimpse into the roaring twenties
Ever since the first effective coronavirus vaccine was confirmed, optimism about 2021 and beyond has been rising, especially within the more affluent areas of London. And yet, without addressing the social and economic divisions exacerbated by the pandemic, 2021 will only serve as a false dawn, argues James Kirkup.
Read in Unherd.
4. Lessons from a (Dis)United States of America
On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump stood in front of the Capitol building to be sworn-in as the 45th president of the United States. Four years later, the same location was a scene of disheartening disorder with the result that a crazed mob storming the Capitol could be the image that will define Trump’s presidency. The chaos and violence that played out on Wednesday might yet have more far-reaching consequences, not only for the presidency of Joe Biden but also for the future of a nation.
Read in The Economist.
5. Why Thomas Jefferson tried to fix the Bible
During his presidency, Thomas Jefferson attempted to extricate Jesus’ philosophy from the gospels by literally cutting out their supernatural claims. Jefferson’s edited gospels were rediscovered seven decades after his death and hailed as an example of the founding father’s genius. Here, Vinson Cunningham compares Jefferson’s detached and ultimately uncompelling Jesus to the “humble deity” who inspired Frederick Douglass, Howard Thurman, and Martin Luther King.
Read in The New Yorker.
6. Stay positive, focus on things you can do and savour the small wins
At a time when so many will be struggling to retain a positive outlook, this piece from Doddie Weir, the former Scottish rugby international and British & Irish Lion, reflecting on how he has kept himself going since he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease five years ago, will strike a chord. His attitude and campaign to find a cure for MND is an inspiration.
Read in The Telegraph.
And finally… Make Your Soul Grow.
This wasn’t written in the last couple of weeks, but a friend alerted me to its existence over Christmas and it contains some simple, sage advice from author Kurt Vonnegut on the value of practicing art – in any of its forms and “no matter how well or badly” – that I hope provides some comfort to parents worrying about their capacity for home-schooling during lockdown.
Read on Letters of Note.