Opinion – Staying hopeful despite the pandemic’s toll

Raghav Raj | Staff Writer

 Look, I’ll begin this column with an admission — no, wait — a conclusion that I’ve been trying to avoid, ignore, deny, or just flat out bury (for context, it is currently 5:23 AM, my eyes are red, and I have just downed my second can of lime La Croix): I have absolutely no idea what to write about.

Usually, my process for writing these columns is relatively simple — I scroll aimlessly through Twitter or a variety of news sites, find something to get genuinely frustrated about, and stretch that frustration out into a page’s worth of opinion writing. Whether that has to do with some sort of cultural development I don’t understand, or it has to do with some political happening that probably serves to harm people, doesn’t really matter to me; I simply need to feel that frustration, then put it to paper.

And make no mistake: there’s a lot to be frustrated about right now. There are large, looming, existential issues, like the constant threat of the climate crisis that threatens to swallow our world whole. And there are smaller, yet no less significant issues, directly impacting millions of people every second they go unattended. Issues like our lack of healthcare in the U.S. Our lack of a decent minimum wage. Our lack of economic support, with barely a scrap of stimulus money thrown our way. (For those who consider $1,400 “enough”: a single month of rent in Mason averages out at around $1,333. For some more reference, we have been living in a pandemic for a year.)

That last thought, for what it’s worth, still floors me. 

We have been in a pandemic for a year. We have put on our masks, paused our gatherings, seen our hospitals overflow, and watched our loved ones die, for a year. While the world around us has gradually built its way back to normal — Tame Impala just sold out two shows in Perth, Australia — we are still here, still stuck watching people around us continue to disappear as vaccinations gradually make their rounds across the population. 

The realization often just hits me square in the chest like a pile of bricks. I’d feel tempted to write about it, to pick apart the relentless failure that led us here, to spend this column in utter, complete despair, but that is something I simply can’t bring myself to do. Not after a year of this pandemic. Not anymore.

Because, if I am to ever make it out of this pandemic with my sanity intact, I think I need to find the little slivers of hope that float around in this ocean of despondency, and cling onto them for dear life. I need to remember what’s gotten me through a year of confusion and frustration, from my friends, to the hobbies I’ve picked up, to the movies I’ve watched and the records I’ve listened to. And maybe you do too.

Despair, as easy as it may be to fall back on, truly gets us nowhere. It doesn’t help the people who need help, and it surely doesn’t help us. Instead, if we want to continue surviving amidst a global event with an end that’s ever so slightly in our view, we must rely on hope, on keeping our hearts open when we cannot be close.