Necessity is the mother of invention, inspired by or leads to great discoveries. Mankind bears witness to this. The search for better antibiotics led to penicillin, and modern tools and implements were developed in the search for more efficient ways to hunt, build, or farm. The longing to fly inspired the Wright brothers to build the first flying machine. The search for better and efficient ways to kill led to modern weapons and the thermonuclear bomb.
Accounting developed and evolved in much the same manner. There was necessity. Information was and still is a valuable commodity, and the insatiable thirst for quality information contributed to the development and evolution of accounting.
Unlike other discoveries, accounting did not grow out of laboratories or is it the result of experiments. It is a product of its environment, i.e., it reacts to the environment, and it also influences the same environment. The principles and concepts accounting observes are the result of, and are mostly reactions to, what the environment requires. New ways of presenting information and the demands of users of information influence accounting. Accounting principles therefore are man-made. Many events and incidents of history either emphasized the need for accounting or made accounting easier and convenient.
An invention suggests something unplanned or that happens because of an unexplainable force, both in moments of inspiration and desperation. It is groundbreaking, revolutionary, and life changing. It is not susceptible to precise planning or scheduling, and often lacks utility in its original form, leaving others to modify, add to, or otherwise improve it. People do not expect an invention to happen but eagerly hope for one.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those in need of an invention especially in the search for a vaccine that will be effective and safe against it. When the breakthrough finally comes, it will not exactly be an invention in the unusual sense because it is preceded by a rigorous, focused approach towards a clear objective. But like the Wright brothers before them, the medical doctors and scientists will have a Eureka moment that will unlock some heretofore unknown fact or theory. The wonder of it all is inspired and urged no less by necessity.
Therein lies reason for optimism that COVID-19 will be beaten. False hopes often lead to despair, but this is one of those times when being hopeful will be helpful. The adage to hope for the best but prepare for the worst has never been more appropriate. The most optimistic are even putting a schedule for the good times to be back and are already preparing for a post-COVID world.
The pandemic caught the world unprepared, resulting in economic collapse, changed the norms of social interaction, deprived people of livelihood, strained the health system, afflicted millions, and killed thousands. The virus wreaked havoc on nations, their economies, and people. It could be one of the greatest disasters ever in the history of mankind. Always in the best and worst of times, many people, institutions, and businesses flounder but many others also flourish. Most of those whose fortunes go north do it not by pouncing on others’ miseries, but by dogged determination to survive all odds, approaching each challenge with tenaciousness and the patience to wait, the courage to try, and readiness to fail and try again.
Theoretical ideas and concepts languishing in drawing boards and yellowed notes, were suddenly tested, and forged in fire, leading to practical application during the crisis, like a big coming-out party, never to be lost again in oblivion. Nothing is like the adrenaline rush from the potent combination of necessity and crisis. Just as surely as day follows night, necessity, and mankind’s intrepid quest to beat the beast will surely lead to a better, healthier, safer, and happier world, albeit, in many ways different from what it used to be. Not only will the much-awaited vaccine be the biggest thing in science and medicine, but other fields of human endeavor will soon wake up to a better life, full of new and innovative ways, tools, toys, devices, facilities, processes, health services, the culinary arts, education, entertainment, social interaction, business, politics, government, and many other aspects of human existence and everyday life. Generations from now may just be quoting Charles Dickens again, saying “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
COVID-19 will be beaten. It does not have a chance against the being that God made in his image and likeness, full of goodness and wisdom. Man’s greatest enemy is himself. All others are pushovers.