In this century, “soft power” is often said to have replaced “hard power”: that is, the power of enormous influence over the lives of millions has replaced tanks and guns. For example, Sweden’s power no longer lies with its military policies, which once commanded so much of northern Europe: Swedish power is now invested in Ikea, Volvo and Spotify.
When this is all over, I hope I get to keep an acute sense of my own uselessness. In the grand, existential scheme of things it’s been hard to take myself or my job too seriously this year. One of the best things we can take from the pandemic is a clear appreciation of who is and who is not essential, and what jobs are and are not truly important.