One virulent disease has shown how connected our world really is. The interdependence between many systems (healthcare, economy, society, environment, and so forth) demonstrates that these relationships are the foundation to our own sustenance.
In a matter of months, the world became simple, still, and quiet after the crashing waves of the COVID-19 virus swept through the nations of the world. Social distancing and quarantine measures led to the closure of many businesses, schools, airports, community centers, shopping malls, gyms, cinemas, festivals, sporting events– pretty much any area that would unnecessarily gather groups of people and cause more harm than good. It became quite clear that the consequences would become a part of reality that we must ultimately face and accept.
The healthcare system was the first to experience an immense shock. Hospitals in notable countries like Italy, Iran, and Korea, became quickly overwhelmed. This was during a time when much about the symptoms of the disease and the virus itself was (and still is) unknown. Warnings from these countries became a missed call from the future. The situations that unfolded over the past several weeks provided a precious window on the best and worst case scenarios to date. Amidst the hysteria, politics, and conspiracy, we must filter out the noise. Rather than taking the advice of those who promote the injection of hazardous compounds into our lungs, look to important figures in national health for a step in the right direction. Believe and support the unwavering heroes, who are saving lives whilst sacrificing their own. And last but not least, use your own common sense. Stay informed, alert, and healthy.
In the midst of the lock-down, supply and demand slowed down, entering the economy into a deep recession. The United States, as the world’s leading economy, sharing about a quarter of the world’s GDP, recently passed a historic $2 trillion bill. This is the largest economic stimulus package in history that was pushed in order to bailout failing businesses and support those left unemployed. This affected economies worldwide, from international trade, markets, and stocks. Many countries scourged for essential goods like the infamous N-95 masks that were literally being re-routed midair between countries in order to meet increasing demands.
Society as a whole shifted to a new way of life. People surrounded themselves with those closest to them in the intimacy of their own homes. For some, life resumed as usual, with virtual classes and meetings held on Zoom. For many, life threw a huge curve ball; millions lost their jobs overnight and became dependent on unemployment insurance to pay off bills, rent, and mortgages. Losing your job, being isolated from coworkers, friends, or family is not easy. Nor is living in fear every time you step out to get groceries and not knowing for how long this nightmare will last. All of these factors can take a big toll on an individual’s mental health. It is definitely not easy, but we are nevertheless lucky to be well and alive. Our situation could have been way worse, so we should be thankful for that.
On the bright side, our planet is healing and so are we. Lock-downs on air travel led to unprecedented reductions in deadly air pollution, up to 60% since last year in the world’s most polluted areas. It was also observed that the Earth’s ozone layer has slowly been recovering, thus stabilizing rainfall patterns and ocean currents. When we go outside, the peace and grace of nature invites us to relax and have a moment to enjoy the slower things in life. We are learning to take a break from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and turn to the things that make us calm and happy. It can be as simple as taking a breath of fresh air, starting a hobby that you never had the time for, raising children, finally learning to cook, or taking some much needed rest. This is a time to gather our own physical and mental strength. This is a time to reflect about how the rest of our lives will unfold from here on out.