To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Here’s to the end of COVID-19 caution

Since the start of the pandemic there has been a huge question—when will it end? For most, we thought it would be two weeks in our houses and then life would return to how it was. That was simply not the case. Now two and a half years later, have we reached the end of COVID-19 caution?

Let’s get one thing straight: there’s no going back to life without COVID-19. As much as some of us may wish the disease would just—poof—disappear, it’s not going to happen. Similar to the flu, it seems it will just become a part of life until it feels like this was always the way. The only thing we can change is how we react to it. We have adjusted our lives around COVID-19, and now it seems like the world is adjusting back while it still remains present. Some would say it’s about time we do this, but this begs the question of what will the repercussions be?

Masking and testing were effective precautions to take in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, as evidenced by the reduced spread on campus last year. Unfortunately, both of those preventative measures require money and social compliance. Socially, a good majority of people are over COVID-19 and lessening the spread. The mindset has shifted from “I really don’t want to get it” to “eh, it won’t be so bad if I get it.” With people less willing to mask not only for their own protection but the community’s protection we see the ever-present culture of American individualism.

People are over having to mask and quarantine because there is no benefit for them to perform those measures, since they no longer care if they test positive. The community has forgotten that immunocompromised people still exist. They have forgotten that for some, getting sick means more than flu-like symptoms. They forgot that wearing a mask isn’t only for them but for those they interact with. 

Wearing a mask is not a prevention technique exclusively for COVID-19. It can help mitigate the spread of many airborne and droplet particles. In fact, wearing a mask was common in other countries before COVID-19 had ever begun its spread. One article in PsychologyToday notes masks as a preventative measure from 1984—36 years before COVID-19. In this story, the author noted seeing people wearing masks on the streets of Tokyo. Having just moved there, the author asked co-workers why people were wearing masks. The explanation was simple: people wore masks in public when they were sick to avoid spreading their germs to others. It was considered polite and a “civic duty.”

This story came from a culture that maintains a collectivist ideology, where the needs of the whole are considered to be greater than the needs of the individual. And that is simply not the case in America where we view wearing a mask or getting vaccinated as a violation of human rights (mind you, the same country that takes away a woman’s right to choice). 

So while we pull back on COVID-19 measures we must ask ourselves—is it really the smartest thing to do? Moreover, is it a smart thing to do in a society that values the desires of the individual over the good of the whole? 

I can tell you right now I know people who went to the dining hall while they were supposed to be in soft quarantine. Why? Because they wanted to. I can tell you that I know people who were supposed to be masking in indoor spaces and didn’t. Why? Because they’re over being told they have to sit back and miss out on life. 

And I’m not mad at anyone for their choices. I get it. I feel their frustration and their ire over the way life is. I wish, like them, for life to go back to the way it was three years ago when everyone’s big concern in college was getting mono.

But here’s the thing: life isn’t stopping for COVID-19 anymore. The world will keep moving and leave you behind whether you’re sick or a close contact or scared of contraction. 

So, to keep up with a moving world, what would you do? 

Even classes aren’t fully considering COVID-19 anymore. Some classes have had their video recording systems removed, so students who cannot attend in person will not be able to rewatch lectures. Other professors are giving two unexcused absences for a class that meets three times a week—and if you still feel sick and can’t participate via Zoom, your grade will take a hit. Even last year I had to miss class since I had COVID-19 and my attendance grade went down, even though there was no option for me to attend. 

So now we are here: a university divided. The half that can’t let go of everything in the past two and a half years and the other half ready to throw caution to the wind. 

We all knew this was going to come at some point. It just seems the day has finally come. 

So I urge you, even though the university isn’t keeping track of people with passports or testing. Follow the guidelines you are given. If you are told not to eat in the dining hall, take a green box and eat outside; the weather is nice anyway. If you are told to wear a mask in your classroom please come with a mask. 

Welcome to the P.C. age. Post-COVID-19.

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