Quarantine-weary amid a pandemic raging outside, millions of Americans curled up in their pajamas last November to watch “The Queen’s Gambit,” a Netflix miniseries that took the airwaves by storm. 

Fiercely feminine in her 1960s style and radically independent, we watched Beth Harmon’s obsessive talent for chess pull her from a Kentucky orphanage to the hushed halls of the greatest tournament of her time, battling drug addiction along the way.


When we decided to move permanently from Switzerland to the U.S. in 1991, I viewed the country as one of the safest places on earth. It produced enough food to feed its population without having to rely on imports and it had a superior military power to dwarf any attacks from adversaries. 

Three decades later my view has been altered, and I’m concerned about three different type of threats, none of which can be countered with conventional defense capabilities. 

In troubled times, when uncertainty reigns supreme, despair or exhaustion sets in, or we simply feel overwhelmed with all the world throws at us, it helps to look for a signal, like the beam from a lighthouse that helps to guide sailors from the dark of night into safe harbor.

It is upon us to open our hearts and minds in order to find that signal. There is no absolute formula of how to find it, or how it finds you.

It can be something simple, like discovering that planting a hope garden has a soothing effect on your mind; re-discovering a passion for reading a good book; reaching out to a friend or stranger and receiving some advice; or something more ambitious, like learning a new skill via an online class; or making some grand plans for when the pandemic is under control. 

I anticipate that historians will divide time as pre-COVID and post-COVID, even if it might not change the Gregorian calendar like B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini).

The world was about to change anyway, but the pandemic will serve as a trigger point to accelerate transformations and alter how we think and act from this point forward. Here is my prediction on how 10 big concepts will alter everything:

I venture to say that unlocking the power of women would make for a better world.

It’s been 100 years since the amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote was ratified. South Carolina originally voted to reject the amendment in 1920, before finally ratifying it on July 1, 1969. 


The year 2020 will be remembered as a pivotal point in American history. 

Looking back at this moment we will understand how a culmination of events has changed our behavior and perception of reality and influenced the future in a profound manner, similar in significance to America entering World War II, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the opening of China relations or the 9/11 attack. 

This has been a very muted Fourth of July celebration.

Stopped in our regular routine by the coronavirus outbreak, shaken by the death of George Floyd, stirred by the hatred and division we are displaying as a nation, we deep down start realizing that the “American Promise” has been derailed.


As I reflect on today’s protests against police brutality and racism, I’m reminded of a life-changing epiphany I experienced in 1999 at a medical conference. We were complaining about malpractice insurance premiums, for which some colleagues were paying more than $100,000 annually. In this discussion, one member stated that if we paid more attention to caring for our patients and less attention to our finances, everything would work out fine. After this, I became more focused on improving patient safety and reducing medical errors, especially during the birth process — and I believe the lessons I learned could help us as a society recognize racial biases and create lasting change. 


I’m using the imposed Covid break from my usual daily routine to take inventory on what truly matters and what does not. I spent time musing about big topics such as: if humanity reduces its footprint, nature will recover. I also did relatively benign things like going through my closet and lining up every T-shirt I own. It’s official: I have too many T-shirts!

Within a few weeks, the world came to a screeching halt. You would not know it if you were a farmer in India, untethered from the internet, but for most of the world the coronavirus is overshadowing the news and everybody’s daily life. The virus is not just attacking our lower respiratory system but our psyche, our values and our bank accounts.