Staff Editorial: Coming of age in a calamity- a rite of passage and call for change

The impact of the virus has put our healthcare system and economy under fire, the West Coast is literally on fire, and political and racial tensions are more or less up in flames. 

If life sounds like a dystopia, that’s because it is. Science-fiction has never been about predicting  a future that exaggerates what is wrong with ours. It’s been about fracturing reality and placing it under scrutiny in a way that warns us not of what could happen, but of what is already occurring.  

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the world is ending though. Growing up on these seemingly life-shattering events may feel unfair and bleak. But we’re also getting older, becoming increasingly aware of the world’s complexities and the morally gray area that surrounds everything and everyone. So as things seem to regress by the second, our naiveté that used to cushion us from grim situations is slipping away, magnifying the gravity of it all. 

In a way, getting older and experiencing calamity have become conflated, meaning things feel especially hopeless.

But history is recurring, not cyclical. The same exact events don’t keep on happening but sentiment and themes do repeat. Some occurrences are unique to our time like climate change and environmental degradation, which has caused irreversible damage, killed off thousands of species, and is currently staining California’s sky into a horrifyingly smoky orange. But the pandemic is a little less novel, if we look at the Spanish Flu of 1918. And the fight against racism has been a long one. Considering that the issue is unfortunately a reliable constant, we have seen change come in many forms, in both in energized waves and consistent organization. 

The storm of all of these things happening at once is disheartening. But after talking with fellow students and then talking to adults, there seems to be a commom pattern: young people feel like the world is at its wit’s end but older generations, weathered by experience and their own battles, continually assure us that we will get through this. 

It’s hard to say exactly what the future holds. But even though there are arrows on the floor, dots directing us to stay 6 feet apart, and dividers that create two person chambers in the cafeteria, school keeps on going. The world has been flipped on its axis and yet we still go in or go online everyday and learn what we have to learn. 

In a strange way, perhaps the ceaselessness and regularity of school is a familiar relief in a time of great uncertainty. Or maybe not. Mason has constantly pushed the mantra “adjust and adapt” as a way to cope with these new obstacles but perhaps accepting a new normal isn’t the only way to approach hardship. If there is so much that we see wrong, so much that we see needs to change, a better way to put it might be to “process and rally” as so many generations before us have done. 

This can only happen if we weigh all facets of this moment: the problems of the past, its effect on the present, and how we create solutions for the future. But this also means that we have to live our individual lives, stress about schoolwork and tests, get involved with stuff that interests us, and give proper weight to struggles that affect us personally. The hope is that this offers normalcy and optimism and ensures we don’t cope with the devastating experiences we are all going through by becoming apathetic or dispirited.  

This may be the first step in fathoming how we survive this mess. Or — at the very least —  it’s the first step in comprehending how millions did it before us.