COVID-19: Society or Self?

By Anushka Joshi.

Being sent home from study abroad or college is just the beginning of COVID-19’s reach––and really just a minor inconvenience. COVID-19 is a test to humanity. It’s an opportunity for us to unite and cooperate to sacrifice for the greater good. Why should I social-distance if I’m not sick? Why should I care if I get sick if I know that I can recover?  We are in a global pandemic––and this virus isn’t something we can simply click out of. It requires time and effort, and most importantly teamwork. By self-isolating, we are slowing down the spread of the virus buying time for medics, scientists, and communities to address current patients. Our global healthcare system is overwhelmed with patients. COVID-19 will continue to spread into every community, and no group will come out unscathed although vulnerable communities are more susceptible. As social distancing slows our economic activity, we are on the cusp of incredibly uncertain times. What happens to that summer internship? My job after graduation?  We are entering a global recession that is predicted to have an unprecedented impact.

This is the first global crisis that we are affecting and addressing head on as a generation––and it’s definitely not the last. How will we work together to solve this one so that we are primed for the next (ahem, CLIMATE CHANGE)? It is extremely easy to live under the privilege of being a healthy individual with the desire to utilize free time to travel, but I implore you to practice radical compassion for others. At the rate that COVID-19 is spreading, the chances of becoming a carrier isincredibly high, and we must protect vulnerable bodies and slow the spread of infection to prevent a global meltdown.

This is a moment in time where we are faced with an opportunity to shift the way we live as individuals and as a society. We are addicted to individualism, and by definition act out of self interest. Is life about living yours out to the fullest or trying to leave it a better place? When faced with a global crisis, the two go hand in hand. In order to live one’s life to the fullest, we must cooperate and do what we can in order to preserve our health and economic systems.

As we return to our respective homes, we enter a new way of life. We return to family and our home environments––which for some may induce stress and mental turmoil. However in this period of social distancing, it is an incredibly important time to develop new routines that facilitate personal growth and feed inner curiosity. Pick up a new hobby, learn a new skill. Embrace the time that we get to spend with our families. It comes as a surprise at this age to spend so much time under the same roof as our families. This period of social distancing has flipped our routines on its head, but it is an opportunity to grow in unprecedented ways. When will we ever have this vast amount of time to sit and learn, and to read and reflect on topics that excited us? As humans we bury ourselves in routine--we always have and we always will--but now is the time to feed into ourselves in ways that oppose our traditional views of productivity and fulfillment. When all the noise of the world cancels out, what brings you joy?

At the end of the day, I am reminded that all of our experiences in life are a luxury. Humans are just another species to inhabit the earth, and we are as susceptible to disease as any other body on the planet. Although we have advanced science and medicine and global systems to sort through this pandemic, it is not promised to protect us. COVID-19 is a natural disaster sweeping the globe. As a species we must mentally and physically adapt to our ever changing global circumstances. This is not the only adversity our generation will deal with, but this is an opportunity for us to learn how to work together, and to make sacrifices for each other. So, Gen Z’ers––which do you choose?