Penguin Random House UK is publishing a series of essays from its authors, including Richard Dawkins and Charlie Mackesy, offering reasons to feel hopeful about the months and years ahead.
Acknowledging the tragedies of the past year, each essay will explore some of the unexpected, positive changes emerging from the pandemic, on topics including love and family, education and the environment, and politics and racial justice.
Contemporary thinkers joining the project include Helen Lewis, Philippa Perry, Kehinde Andrews, Carlo Rovelli and the award-winning teenage naturalist Dara McAnulty. Also offering perspectives are novelists, whose pieces draw on their personal experiences and interactions under lockdown, with contributors including Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan, Jane Fallon, Nikita Lalwani and Lesley Pearse.
The series began on Monday (1st March), with Dawkins reflecting on how the scientific breakthroughs that allowed the development of the vaccine could transform our battle against everything from the common cold to cancer.
He writes: “Looking beyond this particular virus, the techniques developed to make messenger RNA vaccines can be generalised to future vaccines against other viruses. Perhaps also against cancer. Such future vaccines might even be swiftly edited to crush rapidly changing viruses like those responsible for the notoriously heterogeneous ‘common cold’ – and not only those versions which actually are coronaviruses. The point is that as soon as the enemy’s genetic code has been sequenced, the data can be fed into the vaccine production protocol with near-instant results.”
Meanwhile, in his essay Mackesy argues why a positive future for social media is possible, writing: “There's a drawing I did that was: ‘we don't know about tomorrow, but all we need to know is that we love each other’. And for me, that kind of sums it up. We don't know, really. We’ve got vaccines and lockdown results and all that. But ultimately, what gives me hope is the resolve and kindness there is in the community. That's what will win: how we choose to treat each other.”
The Reasons for Hope essays will be published on here across the next month and PRH has also made a donation on behalf of the contributing authors to the National Literacy Trust in support of families impacted by the crisis.