At a time when societal divisions seemed unequivocally pervasive, the world has stumbled into an equally unequivocal common tragedy. From those wealthy enough to seek refuge inside their yachts and private islands, to those sleeping on cardboard beds on the side of the road; from the northern icy lands to the musically-inclined south; uniting old foes, unwilling partners and lonesome souls, a virus is forcing all of humanity to stay inside wherever they might call home. A borderless, invisible force has overwritten and rendered everything that the world took for granted obsolete. Behind our windows, within our four walls, and within the walls of our minds, we are now all experiencing life from the standpoint of an imposed quarantine.
As adaptable as the human mind is to change, it is also change-averse. Having one’s way of life upended and constricted, rewritten by external, uncontrollable forces is gruesome. It is gruesome as experienced from a luxurious estate, it is gruesome from the confines of a shoebox-sized dwelling. It is gruesome for those who have lost their employment and lifelines. It is gruesome for those resting on a cushy savings account. As the world economy dwells in peril, humanity altogether looks ahead in common uncertainty. Whereas divisions such as class, race, gender and physical ability are now more forceful than before and clearly differentiate the manner and severity that each group will be impacted by the pandemic, this moment in history serves as an opportunity for the world to finally grasp a concept that has been touted for so long: that human beings are equal. While some groups are more likely to perish from the virus than others, for once, divisions are no longer segregated by borders. The world is, in a sense, united. United in grief, in vulnerability, in fear.
This unity is an opportunity to finally see the invisible, marginalized groups, which has long been too uncomfortable a thing to take into consideration. As distractions become increasingly unavailable, as the world watches the nightly news in despair at the growing number of cases and deaths reported, it is faced with a choice: to carry on blindly, and come out of this quarantine unchanged; or to open its eyes to the suffering of millions and take action. No human being on this planet is left without a task during this pandemic. While some are left without jobs, everybody is called to do their part. Some must put their lives at risk for the safety of others, some must walk the streets for the safety of others and some must stay at home for the safety of others.
Never before has the suffering of others been so widely reported and never before has the opportunity to help those in need been so widely available. As this borderless tragedy hits the world in its entirety, humanity has a chance to shift its tunnel vision to a more compassionate wide-angle view.
by Ioana Pavel