By Shaan Hooey
“We’re living in an unprecedented time.” “The times we’re living in are unprecedented.” It’s all the same as I flip from one channel to the next. While the use of the word “unprecedented” in relation to COVID-19 is, in and of itself unprecedented, humanity once again has shown how
predictable our responses to adversity really are.
In the first few days of the COVID-19 crisis, I struggled to find my place. I had thrived on being busy for so long that I didn’t know how to partake in the most fundamental aspects of any teenager’s life. I found it hard to spend quality time with family, I didn’t know what to do other than work, and I didn’t know how to preserve healthy relationships with my friends. I became scared. Only months before I was to be catapulted into “independence” and “the real world”, I felt as though I couldn’t find balance. I couldn’t live a healthy life.
It’s scary to slow down because it gives you time to think. At first, I was scared because I wasn’t sure I would like what I saw if I stared in the mirror long enough, but, slowly, I began to unpack years worth of confusing thoughts that had been weighing on me. I realized that I will only ever be a fraction of what I can be for my friends and my family until I find my purpose in life. I believe that those who are most grounded in life have the strongest relationships: the type that transcend national borders and time zones. And I know that the deepest source of gratitude for life comes from helping make the world a better place, no matter on what scale. I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife, but I do know that those that love us will miss us and that’s reason enough to want to be human and be a darn good one at that.
Strong people and strong communities are built not by words, but through actions. In today’s world, there is an unsettling imbalance between moral character and power in the world, which is why it is more important than ever to be a different type of role model. I now see COVID-19 not only as an opportunity to gain peace of mind, but to aim bigger, as well. Why not world peace?
The actions (or lack thereof) taken over the course of this next generation will impact the future of humanity. Rather ironically, COVID-19 has shown me that the answers to the world’s biggest problems may not arise in the classroom. I believe those answers lie in the ability to seek new areas of knowledge and connect disciplines in combinations never before seen. I see the need for transformational change, and I know that the only way to achieve such a result is through taking risks and acting differently than we are now. I’m sick of seeing fallen-through environmental agreements, corrupt corporations, and almost 1 billion people go to sleep hungry
So, what can we do about it? How can we make our generation’s response to the problems that face our one and only home “unprecedented”? Question everything. Look for ways to do things better than they are currently done. Self-teach and seek new knowledge no matter where you
are or what you are doing. But at the heart is the heart. Care for those around you like you would your brothers in blue, and the world will be better for it. Together, let’s write our own story. Let’s be unprecedented.