As the world, country by country, begins to shut down and the inevitable feelings of “doomsday” creep into each household, it is important that we continue to find hope and positivity, even in the worst circumstances. While negative news consumes our feeds, here are a few of the brighter sides that have emerged from the coronavirus outbreak that can bring us hope for tomorrow in these dire times.
The world is cleaner than ever before
As people all over the world stay inside for either state-issued lockdowns or voluntary self-isolation, fewer and fewer people are hitting the streets and using highly polluting means of transportation such as buses, cars, trains and planes. As one can guess, this change is doing our environment good. Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen dramatically around the world, with New York City recording a drastic 50% drop in pollution levels since the city began taking measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In China, greenhouse gas emissions dropped 25% since the start of the year, and the “good air quality” was up 11.4% according to a report by the BBC. Even Istanbul, a city that over 15 million people call home, saw a drop in pollution levels in the first 10 days of their first COVID-19 case. The city’s air pollution fell by 30% in the first two weeks of the country taking gradual measures to curb the spread of the virus. As you can imagine, there is a similar story in almost every city around the world, and although it is unclear whether or not this “break” for our environment will create lasting effects for climate change as a whole, it is undeniably a turn in the right direction.
Crisis brings us together
Shared experiences bring us together, even in a crisis. As the world mourns the loss of thousands of valuable human lives and weeps with the essential workers who work tirelessly to try to help people amidst the pandemic, each of us seems to be more willing to lend a helping hand when needed during these uncertain times. From neighbors checking up on each other, to planned nationwide applauding sessions for health care workers, people from around the world, from all different backgrounds are stepping up to show acts of kindness to each other. One of the most heartwarming stories is of a group of Turkish volunteers in Germany who united to help the elderly by going door to door and delivering aid to the high-risk population amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of the doors that were knocked on was of an elderly German woman, who asked, “Are you really coming from the mosque?”, adding that she’d had a wrong perception of Muslims and Turks for decades. You see, when we all feel desperation, anxiety and hopelessness, we start to understand each other a little more, allowing us to feel compassion and a sense of unity with one another. This crisis is sure to bond us as a society and bring us hope for a more peaceful world.
Time for creativity, self-improvement
How many times have we said, “I wish I could work on this, or discover this about myself” only to let the excuse of not having enough time weigh us down? Well, now is the time to put away the excuses, and truly look at what is important to you, and what you want to do for yourself during this time. Although I would like to make it clear that just because we have the time, it doesn’t mean we have to use it as a time to be ultra-productive. If laying down and doing nothing this week is what you need, I think that is just as much a part of self-care and self-improvement than waking up at 5 a.m. to journal, do a hard workout routine and make a five-star breakfast for your family. The important thing about this time and making the most of it is tapping into your needs and realizing your potential to care for yourself unapologetically and without the fear of time running out.
As boredom sets in during our time of self-isolation, it is also important to get those creative juices flowing. Perhaps taking time away from our screens and putting together that shelf that has been sitting in the corner for the past six months, working on a puzzle with a friend or creating your own recipe could be perfect ways to spend the day that helps you feel energized by using some creativity. Now's your chance to try something new and to work on a part of yourself that is often neglected throughout our result-oriented, fast-past everyday lives.
Appreciation for everyday workers
When this pandemic comes to close, we will never look at the cashier who came in day after day, putting themselves at risk to ensure you are able to bring home food or the nurses who worked day in and day out without being able to embrace their families at the end of the day the same way. The workers that are still on the streets, or as they are called “essential workers,” are the ones that are carrying us through this pandemic. They are on the frontlines, ensuring the health and safety of each of us in order for us all to beat these hard times. These workers, may it be health care professionals, sanitary workers, police or cashiers, are the ones holding society together, and they are the ones we will appreciate the most when life returns back to “normal.”
As well as the essential workers who we see going to work each day, there is also room for a greater appreciation for those workers that are seen as normal in our everyday life, but when they are missing, we see just how valuable they really are. Now if you are a parent who is adjusting to life as a teacher for your children, you may have already found out how valuable teachers in our world really are. Not only do they show up each day to teach your child, but they show up to teach each day for 20 or more other people’s children. If you have even just one child, I am sure you have gained some more respect for teachers just thinking about those 20 extra children to teach each day.
Life will never be the same, but maybe for the better
We will not return to what life was like before the pandemic – that is a fact. It is scary to accept change and to step into the unknown, but there is still hope to use this experience, these hard times, and turn it into something good. Our previously busy, hectic lives have come to a halt and will probably remain so for the next six months or so, as some health officials estimate. We, as the world, will enter a time where life will slow down, and we will be more comfortable with the fact that we are producing less, and we have less to prove to our Instagram followers. We will narrow in on what really matters to us. All of these things, I have hope, will only change us, as a society, for the better. Yes, the coronavirus outbreak will forever change us as a world, like many other crises’ have changed the paths of nations; however, one thing is for sure, this pandemic is evidently bringing us together, as we share in the human experience of dramatic change. Things will change us for the better, and we will never take for granted a visit to our grandparents, the embrace of our friends and the smiles shared on the street between two strangers. Even in the worst circumstances, hope exists. Better, more beautiful days are ahead. Just keep pressing on, world.
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