It has been one year since our world has been shut down and COVID has really tested our society on so many aspects. The significant total of the loss of life has been extremely tragic and even today we continue facing this pandemic with a sense of uncertainty and reactive state in real time.
Life as we know it has been upended and replaced with new processes like digital work and virtual meetups. At the beginning of the pandemic, we made a significant effort to come together as a society and for a brief moment we all felt connected as we hoped this would go away quickly. Especially as it was one of the only times I think many of us Generation X, Y and Z have felt a real fear in our lives compared to other generations before us where they faced massive societal events seemingly more regularly.
One of the things that stands out is how our humanity was significantly tested on multiple aspects with this pandemic. First it was the belief that the virus wasn’t even real as there were mixed narratives all over social media and even our very own government. We had nurses and doctors on the front lines begging for people to listen and understand the ramifications yet it became a political tool and sides were drawn.
Meanwhile, you had toilet paper and cleaning supply hoarders who caused empty shelves in stores for over a month. Could you imagine being an older person that wasn’t very mobile and couldn’t find toilet paper or a bathroom to use since they were all closed? Luckily there were some awesome postings on Nextdoor where neighbors were helping others if they needed a couple rolls, and thank god for those selfless individuals.
Next, it became a battle over wearing masks and the effectiveness of them and never before had we even thought about sabotaging something simple as wearing a protective mask but here it was. Meanwhile other countries that recognized this as a significant risk and had embraced and enforced strict measures, were seeing dramatic improvements and low infection rates. All these issues quickly became political and divisive for our country as all of a sudden you had protests and negative social media campaigns about the government and conspiracies.
This is not to take away the sacrifice and the troubles we had to go through financially as it was extremely unfair to small businesses and individuals that were forced to close, or lost their job as a result of the mandatory closures. Not only did small businesses get blindsided, but many corporations also cut and reduced their workforces with extremely bad timing. Finally, we had the rollouts of the vaccine, the main resource we have to fight the spread of this virus that has killed over 500,000 Americans alone. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed an anti-vax campaign in which many have skepticism and continue to doubt the positive data and effectiveness. After the initial logistic nightmare of the vaccine rollout that the states and counties had to wade through, we are just starting to see the rollout revamped to maximize effectiveness, as it became known after Jan. 20 that there was little of a national plan or strategy.
So, overall, did we care more about ourselves and our bottom line than about working together as a society to get through this pandemic? In some ways yes and in other cases no, but it showed that our human nature and desire to be right in many ways trumped our ability to move forth in the spirit of humanity.
However, science stood strong in the face of adversity, provided a much-needed path forward, and we are starting to see small pockets of light at the end of the tunnel. I can only imagine how our actions will be in the future pandemics but I think we’ve learned how we can be more prepared for this and what we could do differently in the future. This experience has also reminded me of how precious life is, as we the honor the memories and never forget the souls we’ve lost. Let’s continue to come together for humanity and society as we move toward the future and hopefully the significant slowing of this pandemic.