As the U.K. and much of Europe head into ever-stricter coronavirus lockdowns, Americans can look forward to something similar from the likely incoming Biden administration. This isn’t quite the vaccine-protected, hopeful new year we were promised, and our short-term ways of dealing with the situation may be getting a bit tired.
In a similar way, some people who were worried about Pope Francis comforted themselves with the thought that his approach, which in certain obvious ways contrasts so strongly with his predecessors’, was unlikely to last long. The Italians have a saying: a fat pope is followed by a thin pope. As time has gone on, I’ve become less sure this is how things will be. They don’t seem to make cardinals like Joseph Ratzinger (elected as Pope Benedict XVI) any more.
In any case, it seems to me that in this bright new year we should be thinking about adaptation, rather than either hibernation, waiting for better times, or the hyper-activity of a response to an emergency. We can’t afford either the loss of time from the first, as months of crisis lengthen into years, or the stress of the second.