as a world history teacher, i have often wondered what it’s like to live through major historical events. i like to look at historical pictures, videos, or even paintings and try to put myself in their shoes. but it’s difficult because i don’t have those big experiences to draw from.￼
the only thing i can really relate it to is 9/11. that happened during my senior year of high school. it was traumatic and scary. ￼ but nothing else since then has really come close to that.￼
but now it’s different. now i can feel what they felt. i look at photographs of people during the flu pandemic of 1918, and i can feel what they’re feeling. it’s kind of like an out of body experience now. it’s hard to explain. like when i go to the grocery store, and i feel nothing but anxiety and stress and the need to get out as quickly as possible. it’s such a strange and foreign feeling. it still doesn’t feel real.
i think all of this is giving me a lot more empathy. not only for people in the past but also for people around the world that are living very different lives from the one that I’m living, people who might have that experience every single time they go to the grocery store or shopping stall.
no doubt this is going to change us all forever. but i wonder what’s actually going to be permanent. will we ditch and then rebuild our healthcare system in a more fair way? will we rework our education system so that it reflects what is really important to society? will we reach out to others more? ￼￼￼will we be more careful? will we look out for each other more? i hope so.
and that brings me to the unexpected effect of this whole thing. i have more hope. even when this whole situation feels so BIG and hopeless, i have hope that we will come out on the other side better and stronger. i didn’t expect to feel that.￼