I always moped around history class, pining for the days of French revolutions and grand expeditions to discover new lands.
It seemed – at least to a small town teenager in the mid-2000s – all of the most interesting bits of history had been lived out. There was nothing left for me except for a few unreleased Harry Potter movies to experience.
Now, for the last month, the words “unprecedented” has been thrown into just about every sentence – meaning we are absolutely facing something new and uncertain – potentially even historic.
Yes, I’m sure you can bet students down the road will be reading about the great coronavirus pandemic and how all of the stores shut their doors and people had to stay inside their homes.
They’ll wonder, just as I have wondered about how the farmers during the Great Depression or the duck-and-cover kids during the Cuban missile crisis, contended with their times.
They’ll wonder how we found the stamina to come together and keep going.
So the task at hand becomes simple; in the name of history and what those future kids will read, we can’t screw this up.
Hoarding food and over-buying toilet paper simply cannot be an answer on a quiz about what came out of the era of COVID-19.
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It’s a difficult time, that we can all agree upon; but a time that offers us a clear chance at being on the right side of history – one that has significantly less Charmin and negativity involved.
For most, it is not a valiant battle with swords and armor and sweat and glory. No, most of us are confined to a couch with a remote in our hand – a relatively simple request compared to most historical moments.
I’ve even heard this whole quarantine business phrased as “the earth sending us to our rooms to think about what we’ve done.”
So while we are thinking, let us not forget the feelings and well being of our neighbours near and far.
Let us reach out to one another and ask how they are contending and thank those who are making a difference on the front lines.
To all of the leaders – the decision makers having to shuffle gargantuan plans with every morning that passes.
To the nurses and doctors and first responders having to press on with care amongst fear and crowded waiting rooms.
To scientists seeking to find a vaccine.
To the journalists seeking and filtering truthful information and the shopkeepers and cashiers working diligently to keep food on the shelves and lines as minimal as can be.
To every business owner that chose safety over revenue.
To anyone who has lost someone to COVID-19; every death marks the conclusion of a life and an emotional weight that will push down on all those who knew that person.
You will be mentioned in the history books. Perhaps not by name, but by the tireless efforts done to not only slow the spread, but to keep spirits up and civilization going.
My aunt said to me on the phone the other night as we dove straight into COVID-19 chatter that “it will pass. It will pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”
I don’t know about you, but I am eager to see those words printed in a history book not too far down the road.
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