As I lay in my pandemic-induced coma, decades of history, tragedy, and triumph, are polluted by one drowning thought: where did everything go so wrong?
After two years of waiting for the unrelenting pandemic, we are still stuck in a continuous loop of death, sickness, and chaos. The consequence of highly contagious variants means that an endemic future will most likely lie ahead. A faltering and overwhelmed medical system will not be capable of dealing with the increasingly contagious strains of COVID-19. We are far past the possibility to stop future pandemics. So, whilst scientific advancements have continued to shine a dim light back to life, even barely, resembling what we had before, the inevitable consequences of political division and inaction have dug a hole too deep to drag ourselves out of.
Teachers across the United States have reported cases of “disruptive behavior” tripling since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020, Americans drove 13 percent less, but traffic related deaths rose by seven percent with other Motor Accidents having risen by 18.4 percent. For more than 20 years, drug-related deaths have been on a continuous rise. But since the pandemic, the overdose crisis has shot up during pandemic, and the “Black [overdose rate] exceeded the white rate for the first time.” Hate crime reports have “surged to the highest levels in 12 years”, the FBI discovering a rise of attacks on Black people by around 45 percent since 2019.
All of this trends towards a deteriorating American Democracy as we know it. Crippling politicization and division, in addition to steeper trends of polarizations, inhibit our ability to escape collapse. Climate change continues to fuel a crumbling global society, as political tensions and global conflict continue to rise steadily. As we observe our crumbling nation, it would be inappropriate to believe that everything will blow over. That we are just drifting through a rough patch of uneven waters, waiting for the weather to finally clear. We are witnesses to the pains of our own faults and weaknesses.
As my memories flicker between past and present, a wave of bittersweet fills my mouth. Deep in my heart, despite my own ungrateful insincerity and the privileges that I disregard, I still demand an explanation for seemingly endless, meaningless lifelong challenges that seem to pose themselves at every corner.
BA.2, a subvariant, is currently making waves in sectors of Europe, reversing any hope of shedding the entirety of this plague that has lasted for more than 3 years. An insistent rise in mental health issues, particularly in our youth continues to bedevil a leading generation that has been forced into online graduations and homestuck restrictions.
Why did everything have to change? Why can’t everything go back to normal? Why is everything just so blatantly wrong? The fact is, I don’t know many of the answers to many of my own questions. But are we expected to? Brooks, in his Article “America is Falling Apart,” says, “As a columnist, I’m supposed to have some answers. But I just don’t right now.” As we grapple to stay afloat in the tsunami of change, sadness, and emotion, it is okay to admit that we, as a society, are overwhelmed. Society is choking on its own pride and forcing our eyes down, hoping that we don’t get a glimpse of what is falling onto us. Just don’t look up, and everything will be ok.
When I was still in elementary school, my childhood innocence shielded my eyes from the despicability of the world. It was growing up that I realized that we won’t always have the answers about the misery that shrouds life and small joys that I, very much, take for granted.
At the core of this issue, the pressure to constantly adjust and conform to the ever-changing societal norms keeps us naive. I have always felt a responsibility to be informed to tackle each task and question what is put in front of me. Now, more than ever, I realize that I don’t have the answers.