Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo

With the arrivals and distributions of vaccines, the exit seems to be arising in front of us, an exit from the year of lockdowns and slowdowns. It might turn out to be a false hope, but we can’t live without a hope.

As the World Economic Forum’s tagline for this year’s annual conference “the Great Reset” shows us, people tend to anticipate a better world after a calamity as if anticipating a disastrous flood would wash away everything good and bad. People seek for salvation from all the difficulties and injustices in times of hardship. The stock market’s rise in major economies like the US, China and Japan even during the days of the economic freeze under prolonged restrictions of civilian activities may be the collective result of this human nature of anticipating the great reset which solves past failures.

As the World Economic Forum was postponed from January to May, the salvation was delayed, as if giving us time to introspectively think again our way of life and consider how we restart our economy and society on which standard and for what purpose.

We might better imagine what kind of a better world we could rebuild from the ashes of pandemic disasters. We might have learned we live in particular places in particular times. Each of us is living in a neighborhood which is not exchangeable to others and not easily movable or removable. We literally had to live in our small quarter with neighbors whose affinity varies.

We might have better learned we can’t get everything because not all things are commodities sold in the market.

We are to live a better life if we realized, during the days of lockdowns, the value of little precious things near us, like gradual but steady change of seasons which became visible when we stopped busily moving around the globe and started looking at the place where we were.

During the past year, everything was upside down. What was real before the COVID-19 became transient and melted into the air. What was virtual became the most real, such as the world into the laptop screen where the most of the economic and social activities have taken place since the COVID-19. The lines between all that is fake and the truth are now more and more invisible and vague. We might better reset all those anomalies in the lives under lockdowns when we are saved out of this impasse.