• Kaitlyn Viola

A Letter of Optimism to the Survivors of 2020



2020 has undoubtedly been one of the most unprecedented and polarizing years thus far.


The past almost-year has featured a storm of news reports, columns, feature-writing, and

opinion pieces about the current crises that became the reality of much of the world in March of 2020, not to mention the political turmoil that has come to follow. It is no secret that the recent pandemic has transformed our world in ways that were unimaginable. In addition to a plethora of social, environmental, economic and institutional crises, this year has come to invite one of the most urgent wake-up calls to ever face citizens and leaders alike. It has essentially broken every boundary that previously shaped our reality.


What follows this causal nexus is a fairly unanimous feeling of discontent as to the future of the world as we know it—and rightfully so. Many face joblessness, distress, anxiety, and

devastation in the midst of the economic and social disruption generated by the pandemic.

However, it is important to look to history in the face of hope. This is not the first pandemic

America, or the world as a whole, has faced. The 1918 influenza outbreak, sometimes called

the Spanish flu, infected a third of the world’s population at the time, killing an estimated 50

million worldwide. Known as one of the deadliest pandemics in history, this strain of flu still

circulates the globe annually, but poses little-to-no threat after having morphed into just another seasonal flu (a natural progression experts find to be common).


While the viruses differ significantly, decades of advancements have placed us at an undeniable advancement in overcoming a pandemic in the present day. The ability of researchers and scientists to use advanced technologies to develop and test drugs at rapid speeds has never been stronger than now, with dozens of companies globally working on developing and releasing vaccines against the virus. America in particular has adopted ever-evolving means of transgressing the traditional bounds of communication and knowledge exchange, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Arguably, the pandemic has also prompted a rise in creativity among those in quarantine, as many have come to discover hobbies and passions they otherwise might have missed in the absence of such trying times.


The point is: now is not the time to lose hope.


In a time of remarkable uncertainty, we must keep hold of the important things. Although we

struggle at different levels, we all remain on the side of humanity as a collective. While the

future remains uncertain, the opportunity to unite remains. Be kind to strangers. Check on your friends and family; check on your coworkers. Ask people how they are feeling today. Keep the people and things that you love closer now than ever. Remember that most people are trying their best and that most things are temporary. As put by science fiction writer Ted Chiang, “contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so.”

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