The capital of the United States, a city normally abundant with activity, now feels like a ghost town. The only sounds in the desolate streets seem to be the lone sirens of ambulances passing by. Although D.C only makes up about 68 square miles, its population has suffered over 200 deaths due to the virus and almost 4,800 cases have been reported.
Although nothing can make up for the lives that have been lost due to the virus, maybe some positive things can come out of the pandemic too. Washington, D.C is one of the most fast-paced, high-stress environments in the United States. We’re so accustomed to hustling through packed metro cars and facing political turmoil, we often forget how fast we are really moving. The past few weeks, however, have forced us all to put our lives on hold. We now have time to breathe, to pause. For many of us, this has been the first time we have done stuff such as find a new hobby or connect with family. Could a stressful pandemic actually cause us to grow and improve mentally?
I believe the answer is yes. We are often so caught up in our external stimuli in the people and environments around us that we lose ourselves. In addition, many of us depend on social interaction to keep us motivated and successful. For most of us, this is the first time we have been stripped of these luxuries and outlets. This drastic change has strengthened our minds, teaching us how to appreciate the little things and grow purely on our own.
Although Covid-19 has caused the physical health of our population to significantly worsen, the results of this virus have healed the earth in some ways. The pandemic has caused us all to drastically alter our everyday practices, minimizing the stress we are putting on our planet. Although climate change is very much a long-term crisis, the short-term dramatic change in our behaviors could have a long-term positive impact. For example, due to the dramatic decrease in traffic, the air quality in cities such as Beijing and L.A is the best it has been in years, allowing mountains to be viewable for the first time in years. In addition, as we continue to practice these more sustainable behaviors, we can engrain them into our lifestyles once the pandemic surges to an end.
For the last few decades, millions of people around the world have taken our environment for granted, manipulating and ultimately destroying it. Now that we are stuck within our homes, many of us have realized how much we depend on nature to fulfill our mental and physical health. Even with a pandemic occurring, parks and other outdoor landmarks continue to fill with visitors, proving to us how dependent we are on the outdoors and what life will be like if we continue to let our world be destroyed.
The past few years in America have been some of the most politically divisive in decades. Amidst a crisis, finding unity and cooperation is crucial right now. Although there is room for improvement, this pandemic has proven that cooperation in this country is possible when thousands of lives are depending on it. Every day at 7 p.m in New York City and many other cities around the world, hundreds of people shout out of their windows praising the health care workers sacrificing their lives to help thousands of people. Around the world, hundreds of collective movements such as mask-making organizations or people uniting to help communities get the supplies they need are being formed. This type of unity, regardless of identity, is something this generation has rarely seen and we need to learn how to recreate this after the pandemic ends.