Opinions, Column

Oh, What a Wonderful World: COVID-19 and War

It is unbelievable to think that we, as college students, are living in a historic time. In the lapse of just two years, we have lived through a pandemic and are now watching war unfold abroad. Past realities we used to read about in our history textbooks in high school, have left the textbooks and our imaginations. 

The time we are living in now has shaken us awake into reality. We used to view the realm of war as something in the past, something barbaric, and yet now we are witnessing it through our screens. We are constantly bombarded with the grim realities of our time. The war between Russia and Ukraine has been a wake-up call that war and plagues are still happening. Similarly, the pandemic has been an awakening that life is very fragile and that health is not something to be taken for granted. 

 I think our generation has always taken everything for granted, not necessarily on purpose, but because we have never been forced to reckon with global wars or pandemics at an age where we could fully understand them. Sure, there have been conflicts in the past, but never before have external conflicts penetrated the bubble of childhood and privilege. Will these two events that we are living through during the lapse of our short college careers impact the way that we view the world? I would be confident in saying, yes. Now, is this for better or for worse? Maybe a bit of both. 

On one hand, these two events, at least in my case, have made me realize that we really cannot take opportunities for granted. Sometimes you cannot leave things for later, because you never know what could happen. On the other hand, I think the domino effect of these events has led to a more anxious generation. Overexposure through social media has made our generation numb to catastrophic events. These events have lessened our generation’s motivation, because the looming threat of things out of one’s control contributes to a sense of helplessness. The great anxiety of our generation is that everything we work for and our sense of security can be ruined by a pandemic and or sudden breach of peace. 

We cannot entirely foretell the lingering effects of these events now, especially in the long term. Still, I see a generation that is torn between a paradox of two mentalities: “you only live once,” but “what’s the point if it’s all gone tomorrow?” I think this is a dangerous combination, and these experiences have forced us to wake up to reality. 

Featured Graphic by Liz Schwab/ Heights Editor

April 3, 2022
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