Curiosity is one of the core principles that guides our work at the John Templeton Foundation. How can we live meaningful and purposeful lives? How does our social context inform decisions that we make or the way we interact with each other? How does basic science research contribute to human flourishing – even when it takes years to get results or to transform our understanding?
These questions drive our curiosity because they focus on the role that humans play in making the world a better place.
This year, perhaps more than others in recent memory, reminded us why we ask these questions. We faced a pandemic that chased us into our homes, shut down the global economy, and challenged our medical capabilities. However, consider the response. Medical workers from around the globe rushed to virus hot spots. Vaccine development began immediately. Some companies pivoted to producing new products and others responded to the supply chain shock by adjusting delivery schedules. Individual people made the choice to fight the coronavirus by staying home, wearing masks, and respecting government mandates and similar guidelines.
In short, while we have faced a devastating loss of life and economic well-being, we have also witnessed humankind’s capacity to mitigate, to adapt, and to transform.
At the end of 2020, we have multiple coronavirus vaccines approved for the public and a network of suppliers, officials, and providers who are preparing the way for the delivery of the vaccine.
This is truly remarkable.
As we walk into 2021, we at the John Templeton Foundation will continue asking our Big Questions about life’s purposes and human flourishing. Once the world addresses the physiological aspect of the coronavirus, we will confront the psychological impact, and we will once again look to scientific experts, practitioners, public servants, and individual citizens to help the world recover.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote about his experiences in a concentration camp. “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us…Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the task which it constantly sets for each individual.”
What tasks will be required of us in 2021? How will humans overcome the physical, social, and spiritual challenges we faced in 2020? How will basic science research help us be better prepared for the next pandemic? How do we support those who have lost so much? What can we contribute to the betterment of the human condition? These are the kinds of questions that will animate our work in 2021 and beyond.
On behalf of all of us at the John Templeton Foundation, I want to extend my deep wishes for a healthy and hopeful holiday season. I hope you enter into 2021 with a renewed commitment to exploring questions and to advancing human flourishing. We are ready to do that work with you.
Heather Templeton Dill
President, John Templeton Foundation