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COX: Finding the good in the midst of tragedy

Amid such unprecedented trials resulting from COVID-19, it is imperative that we remain optimistic

People are reconnecting with loved ones who have drifted apart, partaking in much needed check-ins with old friends, and forming even tighter bonds with their closest confidants.
People are reconnecting with loved ones who have drifted apart, partaking in much needed check-ins with old friends, and forming even tighter bonds with their closest confidants.

In the past month, COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. Day after day, we glance at our phones and turn on our televisions only to see yet another devastating report about the effects of this pandemic. Lives are being lost. Loved ones are mourning. Those who have devoted countless hours to growing small businesses are seeing their hard work quickly unraveling. Millions are desperately searching for a source of income. Daily pleasures we have grown accustomed to have come to a halt. It is evident that what we are experiencing is an utter tragedy of mass proportions. However, I write this not to provide a glimpse into just how awful the coronavirus has been, but rather to offer a sliver of hope amid our devastation. 

As news continuously pours in, it is difficult to find a shred of optimism within the heap of despair and understandably so. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we find the silver lining in the dark clouds of the coronavirus. The world has experienced incredibly harsh times before, and it is inevitable we will experience them again down the road. It is this reality that makes finding the light in a currently dim world vital, even in these demoralizing moments. As Howard Zinn so eloquently stated, “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.” 

While COVID-19 has taken so much away from so many, it is important to highlight what it has given us as well. Like no time in recent history, these circumstances present the opportunity to revive America’s crumbling families. People are reconnecting with loved ones who have drifted apart, partaking in much needed check-ins with old friends, and forming even tighter bonds with their closest confidants. We have watched communities wither in strength over the years, and now members are coming together once more to help their neighbors. Localities are holding food drives, loyal customers are fighting to keep small businesses alive, and volunteers are answering the call to help those in need. Finally there is a sense that we, a collective group of individuals facing the same struggles, are in this together. For many reasons, independence and isolation have become a societal trend, but in response to the overwhelming nature of the coronavirus, our families and communities are united in a common pursuit, at last unifying our nation. 

Political tensions have reached an all-time high, but we are finally seeing the grip of partisanship loosen as we fight this global pandemic. The chance for humankind to set aside our differences and reunite behind a universal cause is dangling in front of us, and we must grab onto it with both hands. In the fight against our common enemy, our nation has displayed unprecedented ingenuity and improvisation to adapt to our circumstances. Hospitals are creating “ventilator sharing” techniques, stores like Walmart and CVS are opening drive-thru testing sites, neighbors deprived of entertainment are holding balcony concerts and some localities even found a way to participate in Easter Egg Hunts from your car. We are witnessing humanity rise to the occasion in real time.

The cliche “you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone,” has been romanticized for generations, but in these times it resonates louder than ever. Realizing what we have lost leaves most of us toiling over what COVID-19 has taken, however, we also have a unique opportunity to appreciate what we had. An off-switch has been flipped on our everyday lives and the country has plunged into days of despondency. It is in these darkest hours that we have the chance to reflect on what we have taken for granted and vow that we will not make the same mistake again. Having experienced such trying times, we are well-equipped to live life to the fullest when this pandemic inevitably passes. 

My goal in writing this is not to push blind optimism on those reading, while disregarding those facing their most difficult challenges and experiencing immeasurable grief. What I am trying to provide, instead, is a beacon of hope in our present sea of despair. I believe we can work to mend the broken lives and restore the ravaged ambitions caused by the coronavirus while simultaneously picturing the glass as half full. The human spirit has proven to be an unstoppable force, and by continuing our search for the good in a bad situation, we can overcome obstacles as formidable as the one we face today. We may never again experience the loss we have suffered from COVID-19’s path of destruction, but so long as we continue our pursuit of the silver lining, we can slowly crawl our way out of these depths of despair to a brighter tomorrow.

Cameron Cox is a third-year in the Batten School. 

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.