In Times of Crisis

In Times of Crisis The Litmus, Trinity College These days, whenever we turn on our radios or televisions to consume the news, we are confronted every time by the growing death toll and the new countries that have been forced into lockdown. The word one is bound to hear multiple times when tuning in is “unprecedented”, and for good reason. Within living memory, no pandemic has reached the destructive level of coronavirus. SARS, swine flu, ebola; all of these were considered dangerous, but not even close to the extent of the dreaded COVID-19. The NHS has been overloaded by patients which they may not have room for. Schools have closed their doors, moving teaching online; meetings with those from other households have been banned; people are only allowed to leave their own houses for shopping and one form of exercise per day. Social distancing measures have been put in place, making venturing into the outdoors a time of stress and worry, trying to uphold these rules in the narrow spaces of supermarket aisles. Countries like Italy have silent streets, void of activity as people are shut up in their homes, and just when it may be needed most, key products like hand sanitiser cannot be found on the shelves. Yet, as the old adage goes: “every cloud has a silver lining” - and, in some cases, perhaps we can be glad that there are no clouds at all. In China, the biggest carbon polluter in the world, emissions have been cut by a significant 25%. In Wuhan, residents can see the sky again, and hear the birds sing. In Venice, the canals that had been blackened by the fumes of cruise ships are clear again, and dolphins have been seen swimming in southern waterways. In the UK, a staggering 700,000 volunteers have risked their lives to help key NHS workers on the front lines, far more than the health service was expecting. People may not be allowed to meet, but my mother talks to the family more now than prior to lockdown - they enter a chatroom every day at 5 without fail, as I’m sure thousands of others do too. Social distancing measures are in place, making trips outdoors stressful for everyone, especially the elderly. However, supermarkets reach out a hand of safeguarding measures, designating specific times the elderly can do their shopping in. In Italy, the streets may be empty, but residents sing to each other across balconies to lift the spirits of their neighbours. We are at war, yet this is no normal war. There are no opposing human sides, only a common enemy that exhibits itself only when afflicting others. This war is not about borders or natural resources, but simply about protecting each other and rediscovering what we, as the human race, have in common, whatever the circumstances. People from all walks of life put aside their differences to fight a foe whom nobody wants to see succeed. In the words of Aristotle, “a common danger unites even the bitterest of enemies.”


by Joseph, Year 11


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