Have you ever heard the phrase: “bad things come in threes”?
It’s an idea that always scared me –– like when something bad happens, I have to be careful because there’s two more coming –– but with recent events, I’ve started to realize that three is a very small number.
Remember New Year’s Eve around 11:45 p.m.when you were telling yourself that 2020 would be a great year?
In my case, I was making sure I had 12 grapes for the last few seconds of the year. I was wearing something white because it’s supposed to bring me health, something yellow to ensure some extra $$$, and something red to keep my love life spicy. Maybe your experience was a little different, with your own set of weird traditions (I’m not judging), but I think we can all agree that life was simpler back then. We were so young, so naive.
We should have seen the signs: the year was off to a terrible start with Australia’s deadly bushfires. Then, on Jan. 26 we lost Kobe in a shocking and tragic helicopter accident. Neither of these events directly impacted me, and probably didn’t personally impact you either, but I think it’s safe to say we all felt them deeply. It helped me realize how connected we all are, and how much more connected we all need to be.
Fast forward to mid-March when COVID-19, a virus we had been hearing about since December finally reached, and started terrorizing, the US. Sure, the fact that there is a deadly virus is scary, and the fact that we know so little about it and information keeps changing makes it even worse. But to top it all off, we keep reading headlines and getting scary numbers, statistics, and projections, which are often taken out of context, thus creating a full-on panic.
“Quarantine,” “coronavirus,” “stay home” and “until further notice” became the most spoken, heard, written, and read words worldwide. Our lives literally started revolving around these tiny, invisible (technically not, but whatever) particles. Some were scared for their lives, others didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but somehow, most of us, at least for a short period of time, decided the right thing to do was take responsibility and stay home to protect ourselves and others.
After almost three months of the entire world being shut down, leaders decided it's time to go back out. Not because there’s a magic antiviral or a vaccine, but because the economy is shit, lockdown is taking a toll on mental health, and “the cure can’t be worse than the disease.” We are told that things will kinda, sorta go back to normal, a new normal. We need to carry on, but differently.
Naive Nellie here thought that our new normal would only mean more face masks and hand sanitizer when in reality it meant more of the same stuff we were dealing with before COVID-19: good old social injustice, hate, selfishness, and ignorance, now amplified, filmed and with a touch of social distancing. For a minute there I thought that after staying home for so long to “keep each other safe,” and being collectively scared, people would finally understand that we are only stronger together and that we are all human, that biology doesn't discriminate and neither should we. Spoiler alert: that wasn't the case. Everything around us may look different on surface level, but nothing has actually changed.
The virus is still viral, the media is still sensationalizing everything to get more clicks, people are still self-serving and racism is still very much alive. It's so deeply threaded into our society that many people didn’t even acknowledge it was there. With COVID-19 we can hope for a vaccine, but what about everything else? What cures hate? What cures selfishness and apathy? Can we quarantine until racism and ignorance disappear?
Remember the whole “bad things come in threes” thing? How would you feel about sevens, or tens?
We were shut down for two months only to realize that some people have never and will never see past their own bubble of privilege. Some people may never truly understand, nor care, about the effect that their actions (or lack thereof) have on their fellow humans...and that is very alarming. Sure, Karen “made an effort” to stay at home for a couple of weeks, but she still puts others’ lives at risk when she texts and drives, she still screams at retail clerks, and she still calls the police on an African American man who politely asked her to put her dog on a leash.
The world is hurting in many ways, our issues are deeply rooted and complex, and, unfortunately, curing a virus will not save the world.
It makes me wonder: if a global pandemic isn’t enough for us to understand that we are all human and that the only way things will ever be better is by being better, what will?