The speed with which COVID-19 transformed daily life for most people around the world is a powerful reminder of how interconnected we all are today. In a matter of weeks, the virus revealed how dependent we are on each other — as well as the profound debt of gratitude we owe our essential critical workers. From healthcare professionals and transportation workers to ordinary clerks, cashiers and couriers who continued working throughout the crisis (among many, many other heroes), we salute those who have made remarkable sacrifice, and provided essential services, during this pandemic.

It's also worth pointing out that, while these brave men and women shared a common sense of purpose, they came from all walks of life, from diverse demographic groups and unique backgrounds. And while the pandemic brought out the best in them, it can have the opposite effect on others, bringing out base tendencies and seeming to magnify our differences.

Most notably, there's been a disturbing increase in hateful rhetoric and discriminatory behavior, much of it targeting Asian Americans and others of Asian descent. In fact, studies in both the U.S. and Europe have documented a rising tide of coronavirus-related vitriol directed toward these groups. In that light, we need to remain vigilant and mindful of diversity and inclusion — now more than ever.