During this time of great uncertainty, it can be easy to get lost in the negativity. With the media abuzz with statistics of newly infected, rising death tolls, increasing unemployment, and seemingly ever-changing regulations, we are left with feelings of anger, sadness, and uncertainty as we process our “new normal”. The country prays for the newly ill and mourns for the lives lost all while redefining essential and adapting to each new change. Though the significant consequences of this pandemic should not be overlooked, America will overcome these hardships through the resilience of its people.
As this country works to pull ahead of the pandemic, it is important we do not leave its lessons in the dust. We cannot let the lives of those lost be in vain. Throughout Kentucky, green lights shine as beacons of remembrance for the fallen Americans. In their memory these lights glow with a hope and a promise: to honor those we have lost by upholding positive changes. This virus has given our people a chance to slow down and remember the American spirit that made this country great.
America was explored, staked, and founded as a land of possibilities. From the ground up our people built all that we see around us today. However, since the days of founding, expansion, and industrialization we have done more taking from America’s land and resources, than giving back to it. In this process, we have destroyed the environment and health of a once beautiful landscape. With the immediate freeze on the American lifestyle that the coronavirus pandemic has created, our land has been given much needed time to heal. Though progress should never stop, this time can be used to embrace a slower pace and incorporate these new environmentally friendly habits into our citizen’s lifestyle. For example, traveling only as needed, doing what can be done from home, and reusing or repurposing items in the home for crafts and projects are all new habits that may bring more balance to the environment. Caring for the land that houses us and that provides a wealth of resources is attribute all Americans should be proud to perpetuate long after this public health crisis has passed.
Nowhere does it say that lessons learned should stop after the first. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only altered our effects on the natural world but also our actions towards each other. This change can be witnessed in our regular daily interactions. The Golden Rule to “treat others how you would want to be treated,” is ingrained in most people’s minds starting in early childhood, but society’s actions have not always proudly reflected this principle. During this time many Americans from all walks of life are coming together to pull through a time of national crisis. People are embracing the opportunity to rise to the occasion to help each other – from a single person helping their elderly neighbor obtain groceries all the way up the corporate ladder to large corporations setting aside private shopping hours for high risk citizens. Not only have our actions changed, but also our appreciation of America’s workforce has climbed astronomically. Stop to consider, when was the last time you gave or received a thank you for work done prior to this quarantine? The pandemic has shed light on the importance of our industries that provide necessary goods and services and people are showing gratitude to those still working during this chaotic time. These statements of gratitude that were few and far between have now become commonplace once again. Giving kindness to one’s neighbor may seem a little Mayberry, but bonds formed through the community are what helped our founders forge this great nation.
In addition to changes observed in the community, changes are occurring in the family unit (though they might not be as strikingly noticed). There are many jokes about the difficulty in living with your family. Many people have been extending such notions beyond humor and applying into their life, to the extent that it is common to run ourselves ragged in hopes to avoid being “stuck at home, with nothing to do”. However, quarantine regulations have made Americans face this fear head on. Much to their surprise, people enjoy their families. Regardless of the type of family dynamic in one’s household, people are finally spending quality time with their families. This attention has been lacking in the fast-paced life many families have adopted. Making time for loved ones is something that has been increasingly undervalued, until COVID-19. Now the American people have begun putting stock back into this luxury that was long taken advantage of. This value is one that would be wise to keep on the rise.
Though large-scale changes are important, we should not stop there. Rather, these changes need to penetrate all the way down to the core of each individual citizen. For example, one value that could be improved is our health. Poor hygiene and obesity are two major causes of many diseases and illness. Despite the many great medical advances this country has made, the lack of attention to these habits can still cause many problems for people. The coronavirus pandemic has spurred an onset of healthy habits. Many people have increased their general hygiene. Additionally, hand washing along with correct sneezing and coughing techniques are at an all time high. Another example, when people feel under-the-weather they are now being given the time to stay home and take care of themselves instead of being pushed to their limits likely to increase their illness, and possibly also spread it to others. This attention to health increases the overall wellbeing of the population. Not only is there an increase in hygiene, but also with the slowing pace, rising temperatures, and increasing time at home, Americans are taking time to be more active. People of all ages are flocking to their yards and streets for much needed exercise. By maintaining this coronavirus habit, quality steps can be taken to combat obesity, the other American epidemic. The overall health of every individual should not be overlooked, for if we cannot maintain strong, healthy people how are we to maintain our strong, healthy nation?
Environmental, community, family, individual. No matter what lens you look through COVID-19 has brought about more than just negative aspects such as, confusion, inconvenience, sickness, and death. It has also stimulated change. It has provided the American people an opportunity to return to their roots and reclaim the original values on which this country was founded. May those we have lost be honored. With each green glow may we remember the promise we made them. Not a promise to return to normal, but rather a promise to embrace these changes and regain the values we allowed to slip away. In light of all the changes the coronavirus has caused, only we can determine its true effect.