Not Much Has Changed With COVID in Year’s Time

Nearly two years ago, on March 13, 2020, the world came to a standstill. Schools shut down, businesses were closed until further notice and, for the first time in history, Walmart ran out of toilet paper. It was practically illegal to step foot outside your door. A lot has changed in the past 16 months but thanks to the utilization of vaccinations and masks, the world has managed to regain some semblance of normalcy. However, despite the strides that have been made to lower numbers, the world is no longer as unified as we once were during the era of Tiger King and whipped coffee.

The United States ‒ and the world, for that matter ‒ has become a metaphorical battleground for politics and morality and the culprit to blame has not changed since March 13, 2020. A lot has changed in the past year and a half but one thing is for certain: COVID-19 is still public enemy number one.

The first time I ever wrote the words “global pandemic” on a piece of paper, the political and social climate of the United States was a very different place. Back in those days, no one knew what was coming next. It was a terrifying time to exist outside of your own home. The human race had no choice but to put our disagreements aside and come together as an almost unified front against the looming threat of a prolonged pandemic. Fear, it seems, is a very powerful thing, especially when it is struck into hearts that usually hold hate like standing water in a swamp.

At the very beginning of the pandemic, everyone’s goal was to protect one another and hopefully make it out of the pandemic unscathed but, as I’ve said twice before, a lot has changed and our peers are not as nice as they once were.

Much like the world was two years ago, there is always something going on in the news to further divide the population. The 2020 Presidential election, for example, was probably the most notable event in the past year that left the world sitting on the edge of our seats. It was common knowledge that the outcome would most definitely have an impact on the entire planet, no matter who came out on top. And, of course, the audience took notice and decided it was time to take action. Heavily influenced by claims made by the 45th president himself, people took to the streets to show their support for their candidate of choice, waving around signs that read “My body, My choice,” in response to mask mandates and refusing to get the vaccine in fear of microchips being implanted within them. Organizations such as Q-Anon surfaced following the historic election with outlandish theories about miscounted ballots and fake pandemics. And, of course, people ate it up like candy.

Going back to school during this time was interesting to say the least. Most students, like myself, abandoned ship halfway through the first semester for online school. However, during the three and a half months I did attend school in person, I witnessed a kind of tension that can only be found in government buildings and presidential debates. No one was quiet about their beliefs and it was almost impossible to claim centrism. Masks were mandated, of course, for our own safety and yet it was a continuous hassle to even enforce the mandate. Some people did not even bother to pull the fabric over their mouth. It was frustrating, watching all of these people so ignorantly refuse to protect themselves and their peers while people were dying all across the country. It seemed like the country could not get any further from unity.

Then the insurrection happened.

It felt like a blur in the month leading up to President Biden’s inauguration. All anyone could talk about was the new president and his cabinet. The diversity, the policies, the bright future for America. It was a momentous time, a historic time. I remember my father calling me into the living room with the excitement of a child when President Biden’s victory was announced. It was a time of hope after nearly a year of fear and division. I almost forgot that there were other forces working to topple this moment of joy.

I remember taking a nap on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, only to be woken up by a very loud CNN notification informing me of an attack on the Capitol. It was like waking up in a movie. Images of people scaling the Capitol walls, carrying signs and flags that held symbols of hate and propaganda, crossed my screen and all I could do was watch the coverage in shock, awe and, above all else, fear for the future of our nation.

And now, as I reflect on the past year, through all that I have seen and experienced, a quote that I wrote over a year ago has stuck out in my mind, begging to be repeated over and over again:

“Our descendants are watching us through the eye of history. Is this what we want them to see?”

I wonder if this thought was running through the minds of the silent generation a century ago, when they were shipped off to war during their own pandemic. I wonder what they would think of the current divide that seems to have a hold on our country. We, as their descendants, have watched them do great things through the scope of our history books. We have watched them sacrifice themselves for people halfway across the world who they had never even seen with their own eyes. If they could do that, what is stopping us from getting a vaccination as they did for the Spanish flu to protect our neighbors? What is a couple weeks of lockdown to us if it means we will once again be allowed to thrive like our forefathers did before us?

History has its eye on us so I must present my question once more. Is this what we want to be remembered for?