I am in no way seeking to suppress or discredit the struggles of anyone during this unprecedented time, however, it is time to put your challenges in perspective.
I have sat silently in Zoom courses at California Lutheran University while people complain about canceled concerts, vacations and their inability to go to TJMaxx, yes–TJMaxx.
On Wednesday, protestors, primarily owners of small non-essential businesses surrounded the Capitol in Michigan, demanding the governor to lift her extension of the stay-at-home order.
In an interview with WOODTV-8 in Lansing, a protestor who owns a painting company said “we have common sense…we know what’s right and what’s wrong we know how to take care of ourselves.” When prompted, the protestor said that gathering to protest that day will increase the cases of COVID-19 in the city “a little.”
In Huntington Beach on Friday, protesters’ signs called stay-at-home orders a “test run on socialism,” and called for “liberation.”
This is an American syndrome.
The fact that our capitalistic greed and complacency in our civil liberties prevents us from making the same sacrifice as the rest of the world is unsettling.
When asking my followers on Instagram “are people in any other democratic country protesting stay-at-home orders?’ I received zero “yes” responses.
“Nope, we are too scared of getting infected or losing our loved ones because of corona,” Selene Baccinelli, a former U.S. exchange student from Italy, said.
Can we not endure a small sacrifice to save millions of lives?
As a country, we need to commit to something greater than ourselves, and that is doing our part to stop the spread.
Christiano Parziale, a manager of the hotel in Rome that hosts the CLU-Oxford study abroad program, said, in Italy, where they are experiencing one of the highest mortality rates, the citizens understand the importance of practicing social distancing to care for one another.
“What we were asked is to stay home, and it was kind of easy,” Parziale said. “They didn’t say ‘go to the war’ or ‘go to the moon’… it was a simple thing to do, I feel that everyone is just as important to make things work.”
Sure, online school is more challenging and not ideal, but we have to consider our privilege to have the option to even continue classes during the pandemic… let alone attend an institution of higher education.
My friend Ayana Mustapha-Salifu from West Africa said if it wasn’t for the Ghana Scholarship Fund, “I would have ended up being a shepherd, it’s basically what I was doing and that was the future for me and everyone else around me in communities like Senchi-Ferry.”
Though it is especially challenging under the psychological weight we carry during this time, be mindful of the world around you.
This is not easy for anyone.
There are even Cal Lutheran alumni living abroad in countries where you legally cannot leave your home. They are living in countries where every step, transaction and move is being captured and recorded by cameras and electronic systems, let that sink in.
In Russia, Cal Lutheran alumnus and international correspondent Nick Muller could be subject to five years in prison if he attempted to do any form of reporting that is deemed inaccurate by Russian authorities.
Here in the U.S., we are mostly allowed to freely roam, but we are being asked to practice social distancing and wear masks.
As a country, we are comparatively doing alright–our rights are still intact. But that doesn’t give anyone a right to harm the lives of others.
In an interview with the American Psychological Association, psychologist Josie Serrata said she expects a rise in domestic abuse.
“We found social factors that put people more at risk for violence are reduced access to resources, increased stress due to job loss or strained finances, and disconnection from social support systems, which unfortunately leads to circumstances that can foster violence,” Serrata said.
Some families, such as mine, have not been able to say their last goodbye to loved ones when they pass of non-COVID-related terminal illness, some college students have been forced back into their parents’ downsized homes, many families, even recipients of stimulus checks, cannot put food on the table.
Before you go on Twitter to complain about “this doordash order is over an hour late… please just either give me the food or cancel the order,” consider how you can channel your energy into something productive.
Go on Pinterest and learn how to sew masks, reach out to small businesses, ask what you can do to help, start a free tutoring service for low-income youth, ask elderly neighbors if they need groceries, call your friends with mental health issues and ultimately if you have the means, donate.
Now is not the time to attempt to restore your privilege.
Now, more than ever before, it is time to put others first. Be kind, stay inside.