Pursuing Positivity in a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic challenges us in ways we could never have imagined. This pandemic causes disarray and uncertainty and is now largely responsible for the mental health crisis humans are battling everywhere. 

Deaths related to both the coronavirus and racial inequality, record unemployment rates, the closure of businesses and schools, the postponements of events and the inability to regularly see family and friends have made this last year very difficult.

This is no doubt a difficult period of time for us all, but it is exactly that: a period of time. A time that will pass. It may often feel like a hopeless situation that we have had no control over for a year, but a sense of hope is possible when we try to look at the pandemic differently and see the positive effects that have come out it.

In the beginning of the pandemic, mandated quarantines forced the Earth to heal from the wear and tear of human activity. For example, the Venice Canals, which are typically dark and have murky water, were transformed into a clear, blue color for the first time in 60 years because the decrease in water traffic allowed the sediment in the canals to settle. Additionally, fossil fuel emissions largely decreased when many economies shut down. For example, China, which is the world’s largest carbon emitter, experienced a 25% decrease in carbon emissions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced us to rethink what constitutes a person as an “essential worker.” As of 2019, there are 55 million essential workers. This not only includes health care workers but also retail associates, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers and many others we have desperately leaned on to fulfill our daily needs, especially during the pandemic. These workers, who are the backbone of our country, finally received the recognition they deserve amid the pandemic. This recognition pushes conversations about unfair wages and benefits for essential workers to the forefront, which will hopefully encourage legislative change in the future.

The support of frontline workers also puts a major emphasis on community — something that I feel we were losing touch with before the pandemic.

In the United Kingdom, five British Broadcasting Corporation radio stations invited listeners to request songs for a nationwide singalong. In Surrey, U.K., more than 16,000 people signed up to adopt a grandparent. This initiative sought to pair volunteers with care home residents who needed real connection and communication, which aids in the global mental health crisis by providing comfort to those who cannot see their friends and family.

One of the most impactful examples of community-building is the worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. While these are ongoing issues in all our communities, the murder of George Floyd was the spark that brought many opposing communities together for a similar end goal: peace.

Despite the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has seen some unexpected positive effects as well.

As much negativity as there is in the world, we should strive to see the positives because when we find a way to find a balance between the negatives and positives, we will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

This story was written by Hope Moses. She can be reached at hope.moses@marquette.edu