Lily Wood ’22
Global Citizenship amidst COVID
December 1, 2020: Tears are streaming down my face. Disturbed’s rendition of "The Sound of Silence" blasts in the Eagle Escort van. I had COVID-19.
I had COVID. I had the same disease that Boris Johnson and Tom Hanks and Khloe Kardashian had survived. I had the same disease that, as of February, had claimed over 500,000 lives in the United States alone.
COVID adds a new layer to the term globalization. We know this word with regard to taxes and tariffs, poverty and prejudice, capitalism and McDonalds. However, COVID expands this definition. The quick, lethal spread of this virus has conquered and been conquered by people around the world in the past year. A single person could directly infect hundreds, each mourned by a different family. None of our lives can or will be the same again.
However, as I sat in my cot at Pine Manor, I realized that COVID, while the swiftest, most obvious example, clearly illustrated the power of existing in this interconnected, volatile world. Not only can one person change the world, but we all do everyday. We saw it with the Arab Spring, the GameStop short squeeze, the Instagram Egg. A few weeks ago Texas suffered just a taste of the consequences of normalized political inaction towards climate change.
To put it simply, on this un-sheeted cot, I realized my global citizenship. To Locke’s disappointment, I agreed to no treaty, signed no consent, created no institution. However, now more clearly than ever has each and every one of us acquired a responsibility not only to ourselves but to everyone we know and cherish, and even to everyone we don't know or cherish.
Coming from New York, I know what COVID can do to a landscape. I live near Mount Sinai Hospital, so for months the only voices I heard beyond my family’s were the ominous cries of sirens. Traffic lights become decorations during the short, bi-weekly walks to the grocery store across the empty streets. My friend Abigail got a single walk for her birthday on May 1st.
But the sadness of this pandemic does not deny the beauty of compassion or hope or courage. Think about the doctors and nurses who risk their lives everyday to save people simply because they can save people. Think about the 7PM NYC citywide sing-alongs to welcome these heroes home. Think about the national pain the people of the United States at last felt following the death of George Floyd, and the peaceful revolution that anguish and fury inspired and continues to inspire.
Global citizenship is a burden, but admits us to a community that loves and evolves. I will not see my brother for months. I missed weddings, funerals, birthdays, and Thanksgiving. I have not hugged my 95 year old grandma in over a year (although she just got her second dose of the vaccination!). Physically, we as individuals have never been so separate. However, on a global scale, we are closer than ever.
Lily Wood ’22