COVID-19, also known as the Rona, came in like the terminator, determined to make the human race rethink life as we knew it. While this pandemic has been the cause of a lot of loss, stress, and anxiety, this pandemic revealed quite a bit that we can use to better ourselves as individuals and a country in the future.
During the days before the world was officially labeled in a global pandemic, COVID-19 began revealing our prejudices and sense of entitlement. It really took many by surprise when COVID-19 seemed to show no prejudice as to whom it would infect and where. So many people were originally convinced that the virus would remain contained in one part of the world and never touch an American or American soil. Conversations began surrounding the hypothesis, rooted in pure prejudice, that only certain ethnic groups had to worry about the virus.
People literally took comfort in thinking that a whole virus was a respecter of persons and adhered to socially-constructed statuses, HA!
Think back, while the WHO warned about the possibilities of the virus spreading globally, the United States remained "unbothered". While we bickered over whether the news of this virus was a "hoax" or the result of 5G cell towers (insert elaborate eye rolls), real-life was happening and the virus was spreading. When the mere notion that the virus could be real hit, people panicked and bought up all the toilet paper and paper towels like those items were the only things vital to survival (insert another elaborate eye roll).
And that was just the genesis of this pandemic. Now, let's jump to being in the pandemic. Despite seeing other countries being successful at flattening the curve and lessening the havoc COVID-19 could bring by going into real lockdowns, the United States decides to reluctantly go into soft lockdowns. Although America always claims to be the best and number one at being spectacular, many countries that America considered "less than" were experiencing greater success at keeping their residents safe. Many of those "less esteemed" countries exhibited great discipline and unity, which is what practically healed their land.
America's reality and America's perception was so polarized that it was only a matter of time before someone somewhere spoke out.
In March, Norway's University of Science and Technology warned students returning home to essentially be careful during their time in countries with "poorly developed" health care systems (specifically naming the United States). As if American travelers didn't feel the stock of their American passport declining, the next uproar among the American people definitely was the moment of reckoning.
Days went on, numbers of infections and deaths continued to rise, and now there is an uproar about safety precautions. Many states were reluctant to "shutdown" and quick to open, despite the intense risk. In addition to many Americans going about life like there was no pandemic, we then had a rise in "patriotism" that declared wearing a mask for the safety of oneself and others was a violation of civil liberties. This alone revealed quite a few areas of needed improvement for America.
It speaks volumes when, even in the midst of a global pandemic, there is a population of people who still lack empathy and are only superficially concerned with themselves.
As if increasing the risks of infection and spreading infection wasn't enough, many Americans still chose to travel to countries that did the hard work to reduce their numbers. Keeping with the American way, we showed no discrimination in our lack of empathy and global responsibility. As a handful of countries opened their borders back, they opened with restrictions. Some countries, under the wise council, decided to open borders with restrictions in addition to a travel ban for American travelers. Of course, some Americans were offended, but when you take a step back and look at the situation objectively--you can't blame countries for banning American travelers. Countries that opened to American travelers experienced increased COVID-19 cases within two weeks. In various social media travel groups, I'm a member of, I read countless accounts of natives to many European, Asian, Caribbean, and African countries speaking of how inconsiderate American travelers were and how the influx of COVID-19 cases affected their towns' livelihoods. Some of those posts were very authentic and passionate.
Needless to say, I read quite a few posts that essentially told Americans to stay home, even if our country was on fire; we were unwanted elsewhere.
For the sake of clarification, this pandemic has revealed many areas that we, as Americans, need to work on. The time is nigh for us to lay down this sense of entitlement, our arrogance, and prejudice. Now is the time for us to step up to be global citizens, filled with empathy, integrity, and respect. This pandemic has shown us the truth of the statement, "a house divided cannot stand", and it is the real-life version of a demonstration that how the actions of one affect many.
All things considered, I ask you, to really consider more than just you when you walk out of your home. Consider your family and those around you that already have medical struggles before you decide to not wear a mask and social distance. The question becomes what do you have to lose? It's been proven that masks do not prevent oxygen intake. It's a simple courtesy that can save a life. While I have never promoted being fearful of the Rona, I do promote healthy living, healthy lifestyles, and being globally responsible.
As the adage encourages, "I will be the change I want to see in the world," and I will do my part to protect myself, my family, my community, and the world.
I've even gone above and beyond by designing masks that will promote safety and positivity with style. Because let's face it, masks aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Travel won't return to anything like what we're used to for at least a year. During this time, we can get better together, so when we do gallivant around the globe, the world will have an entirely different--a better--experience with American travelers.