A Familiar Feeling
It’s happening again. Michigan is heading to spring break. And the world is on fire.
Two Years Ago
Here’s Wikipedia’s international event summary for February 24, 2020.
During my second semester of college, I had a decent routine going. I’d head to the gym 4-5 evenings a week, and then recover and grab dinner at our dining hall. I’d generally have dinner by myself and use the time to catch up on news via NPR and the AP.
The mental health impacts of being so up-to-date with the news notwithstanding, I remember being somewhat “ahead of the curve” when news about the coronavirus broke (as in, actually caught people’s attention). I remember feeling afraid reading about the virus’s rapid spread in Italy. The day news broke of the first few known cases in the US (I think they were by Chicago and Seattle?), I made a dash to the University Health center to grab myself and some close friends some masks.
I’d grabbed three masks — one for a close friend, one for my roommate, and one for myself. I guess I didn’t fully know that surgical masks don’t really protect the wearer, and that more importantly, a single mask would certainly not make it through this pandemonium.
Albeit hesitantly, I’d even made some small bets on the stock market tanking when the coronavirus hit the States. As much as it pained me to “bet against humanity”, I had a hunch about inefficiencies in our socioeconomic situation and ended up being somewhat correct.
America was still relatively nonchalant about the situation, even sending mixed signals on the efficacy of masks. The University of Michigan allowed students to return to campus after Spring Break. We even had two full days of classes. However, at this point other universities had issued advisories to their students to not return to campus after their respective breaks, so there were a lot of questions being thrown around. I remember the staff in one of my computer science courses being proactive and moving a midterm exam online despite no such directive from the higher administration.
A day or two later, mass panic set in, and students rushed to move out of on-campus dormitories. A lot of my international student friends panicked about housing availability and travel shutting down; through a mad rush, most had flights back home within 72 hours to make it in within travel shutdown windows imposed by other countries. The great toilet paper rush happened.
I don’t think I need to talk about the rest. We’ve lived through a rollercoaster of public health messaging, celebrities singing for us, maddening anti-science sentiment, misinformation, and politicking since. That’s not to say we haven’t had good in our lives as well, but I think this blog post has mostly pessimistic undertones anyway. Thanks, brain.
Here’s Wikipedia’s international event summary for February 24, 2022.
This is what the front page of NPR looks like around the time I began writing this.
Where I am, the day’s just getting started.
I’ve been listening to some Linkin Park lately, and Wisdom, Justice, and Love from the album A Thousand Suns is probably the best thing I can paste down here.
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight
Because my conscience leaves me no other choice
A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war
This way of settling difference is, is not just
This business of burning human beings with napalm
Filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows
Of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane
Of sending men home from the dark and bloody battlefields
Physically handicapped and psychologically deranged
Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love
— excerpt from “Beyond Vietnam” delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I don’t know where we wind up after this. Violence and war continue to occur somewhere almost every day regardless; these high-profile events just get larger portions of the populace riled up. If the US is lucky, we might even witness some bipartisanship.
I guess I’ll just post some anti-war quotes on social media.