Opinion: An optimistic look at the pandemic

Gabrielle Shiozawa and her little brother Sam display their homemade face masks in June 2020. Shiozawa spent more time connecting with her family while quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Gabrielle Shiozawa)

I cannot discount the immense upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but I can say this: Not everything is good…but good can come from everything. 

The pandemic has been a chance for many to slow down and reconsider what matters most. People have reconnected with nature, exercised creativity and bonded with loved ones. We have had a unique opportunity to assess what works in our lives and what does not.

I have noticed a greater general appreciation for the social connections we once took for granted. FaceTiming friends, connecting with roommates and taking part in socially distanced classes remind us how much joy comes from human interaction.

In addition, our sense of community spirit has grown. From picking up groceries for our elderly neighbors to reaching out with loving gestures to those who are lonely, we have truly taken up the task to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”

I have also witnessed a greater reverence for the service industry, medical professionals and other essential workers we depend on.

Every day, I hear complaints about how much different our lives are because of this pandemic. I know, I know, this is not how I pictured my 2020 either. I had a family vacation booked, a job I was thrilled about, and classes I could not wait to take. Yet as disappointed as I was to have these plans fall through, other miracles took their places. I connected better with my family, explored the outdoors more and served in ways I couldn’t have done otherwise.

I have seen miracles everywhere I’ve looked.

Crises can bring out the worst in people, but they also can bring out the best of humanity. I see people who wear face masks not because they are comfortable in them but because they want to express love to others. I see people going out of their way to serve those in need, small businesses being supported, and technology bringing people together.

Instead of constantly focusing on things we cannot control and being disheartened by everything that has gone wrong, what would happen if we shifted our focus to everything we’ve learned? To all the goodness we’ve seen in humanity? To all the ways we have grown?

Sure, I would love to be back in normal classrooms without a pandemic and without a mask. But on my first day back at BYU I sat not in a hardback classroom chair but in sunshine-soaked grass as I listened to a professor’s Zoom lecture, and I wanted to weep with joy.

There is so much light that is still ours to hold. 

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