2,621,944 people dead (and counting) and yet, some still believe this is a conspiracy. Masks are required in almost all establishments and COVID-19 tests are required before any travel or return to work and some people still believe this is a hoax. Hospitals are at maximum capacity and nursing homes have been evacuated, but people are still throwing wall-to-wall packed parties. We can’t see our air or breath unless it’s just really that cold outside but we don’t dispute it. However, we’ve seen what COVID-19 can and has done. It has killed 2,621,944, it has hospitalized far more, and it has upended life as we knew it, so where is the protestation of its effects? Where does this ignorant and self-serving denial come from? How is it that we are a year into this global pandemic, into Zoom University, into working from home that we still don’t get it? How is COVID-19 still a point of contention and denial? How is it still viewed as anything other than a threat to all our lives and something to take seriously? How could anyone still not see COVID-19 for the danger that it is?
The answer is not as sound as it is obvious and perpetual. It is selfishness and as my father has always said, selfishness is a disease that affects everyone.
Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others is the definition of selfishness, which is just another way to say
We live in a society that only prioritizes that which they are impacted by, and so long as no one in their family has COVID-19, then they’re
impenetrable, and COVID-19 isn’t their problem. Except not only is that way of thinking selfish, but it’s also harmful. Despite having been in this pandemic for a year we are still learning about COVID-19, especially how it spreads, so no one person is exempt from taking precautions just because they haven’t lost a family member or themselves had it. And even after a year of living in what is jokingly now referred to as a panorama, some of us still don’t seem to care about the unpredictability of COVID-19 and the fact that our actions directly impact others, not to mention that again it has already killed millions worldwide. Even after living through this pandemic for a year now, there, for some of us, is an immense lack of a sense of urgency and compassion within. Caution is literally being thrown to the wind for the sake of parties and for what some feel they are being deprived of, which is to say their former lifestyles. But we were all called to change our lives a year ago – each and every one of us, for the safety of each other and even now, a year later, only some of us feel obligated to abide by that mandate, while others of us continue to think of no one but ourselves and thus, are endangering everyone, especially the people we claim to love.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. COVID-19 is a disease and unfortunately, it does what diseases do – it infects, it weakens and it kills but the injustice comes in when there are people who beckon for it with the way they choose to live, when they pretend it doesn’t exist because it hasn’t knocked on their door and taken anyone from their home or inner social circle.
We can no longer live in a world where we only care when it is in our home or impacting the people we love. We want this to be over, to be able to live life the way we used to, but honestly, if and when COVID-19 is no longer a threat, our world will still be forever changed. But that sliver of normalcy we’ve all been craving, the urge to just go outside free of looming disease isn’t going to come any sooner with the parties and the non-masking outings. We can’t be a part of both the solution and the problem. You can’t throw parties, live dangerously, and then also, condemn COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order. COVID-19 is doing what it’s supposed to, unfortunately, but are you? Are we? A year in, you’d think we wouldn’t have to ask these questions, but, collectively, are we doing our part truly? Are we standing 6 feet apart from people? Are we wearing our masks over our noses when we enter establishments and really, everywhere? Are we getting COVID-tested? Are we washing our hands? Are we abiding by the occupancy rate of establishments before we enter?
None of this is hard nor is it intellectually unfathomable but some would argue that it’s inconvenient, that it clashes with their lifestyle, but personally, I think death is much more inconvenient and menacing than any adjustments I may have to make to prevent sickness and in my own body, the bodies of the people I love and people I don’t know, but don’t want to infect either.
My father has also always said, do what you have to do so you could do what you want to do. If we want the freedoms of yesteryear or at the very least, not to have to worry about COVID-19, we have to do our part. Doctors and nurses, they’re doing their part. Scientists are doing their part and all we are asked to do is have some respect for the space between us and another individual, is to keep our noses and mouths covered so we don’t spread germs, is not throw ragers, and is ultimately, to exercise sound judgment, restraint, and empathy. This is not an every man for himself kind of thing and that is the downfall of our society – failing to see that we are in this together, that we need each other, and that our actions impact others. There are far too many lives at stake for any of us to continue to be this selfish, this undiscerning, and this careless about others. This disease, this virus has shown us how random it is, but also, how our actions have a direct impact on the lives of others. The truth is our actions have always had a direct impact on others, whether we’ve realized it or not, but in a moment where we still don’t know the ins and outs of COVID-19, that impact takes on a much greater and dangerous meaning. I don’t know what else to say other than the fact that we really cannot afford to be any more selfish and dismissive of a virus that has already killed 2.5 million people and that has turned our world upside down. Selfishness is a luxury we cannot afford and will kill just as many people as COVID-19 if we don’t take this virus as seriously as we should and especially if we don’t value the lives of others as much as we value our own.
One year ago, COVID-19 came like a thief in the night and changed our lives, transcending any understanding we had of the word normal. And a year later, families are still grieving, parties are still being thrown, masks, for some, are still a suggestion and COVID-19 is, to some, still perceived as a hoax. We need to do better and be better. It’s just that simple. Our lives depend on it.