COVID: Stop the Judgment and Look for Hope

By Lucy Jones, Crest Editor

“Take off those silly things,” said my 80 year old grandmother, a woman who beat severe pancreatic cancer only a year ago. My family and I, masked up, were seeing grandma at her house for the first time since the pandemic began. It seemed absurd that she did not take our caution more seriously. But, from her perspective, all she wants is a hug from her grandchildren who she hasn’t seen in months. Even as I fumed about her disregard for safety and social responsibility, I get it. I understand where she’s coming from and don’t feel the need to over-explain or to shame her. And this is the crux of the issue: the pandemic has undoubtedly forced upon each and every one of us a different, more challenging lifestyle than we typically lead, but what we keep forgetting is how to have compassion for the many struggles confronting our fellow citizens.

In the last year roughly 389,000 lives have been lost to Covid-19 in the United States, fracturing families in our community and around the world—by far the worst part of the pandemic. The year has been tremendously tough for everyone: people have been laid off, businesses have closed, education systems have been adrift, parents have had to reconstruct themselves into teachers. 

Summit senior Luke Bundy has recently experienced first hand just how brutal some people can be even amidst all the struggle that the pandemic has brought. After texting to a group message that missing school is his diagnosis for mental health issues, insinuating that he wants to return to school, a screenshot of the texts were made into a Tik Tok where he was mercilessly attacked for his position. The creator of the video chimed in: “Boo hoo white boy.”

Bundy lives with his single mother and younger sister, and has a brother in college. As a family they have not been directly affected with the impacts of Covid-19—something Bundy is grateful for. However, like other families, their last year has not been easy.

“We have always been very, very close to our grandparents,” Bundy said. “They are our closest family to us. I can’t remember a holiday, birthday, or any special event really, without them.”

But he hasn’t seen them in over a year.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that the people you have the least amount of time with are the ones we cant see at all right now,” Bundy said. 

Through the brutal times we are enduring, Luke Bundy is trying to stay hopeful for what the rest of the year has to offer. Bundy explains that he, as a senior, already feels the “senioritis” that most do in their last year of high school. Though this year, seniors have lost all of their extracurriculars, sporting events, school dances, and everything else that usually makes their last year more bearable. He says that he feels his quality of work has dropped off and his grades are taking the hit.

“I think last year’s school [online] was a lot more manageable, we all had hopes to go back in the fall as usual, so I think it kept my motivation higher,” Bundy said. “But obviously that has not happened yet and I think if we were to stay in online school the rest of the year I would have a really hard time finishing.”

The general consensus from students and teachers is that online school works temporarily, but it is in no way a sustainable or efficient form of education. That being said, it makes sense that Bundy, along with many of his peers, want to return to in class learning. Though that is precisely why he was so harshly ridiculed. 

The drawbacks are seemingly obvious: cases in Oregon are around 134,000 and teachers are still not vaccinated. But, by no means does that justify hate speech against enthusiasm around a more normal existence.

“If there was a range of excitement about life, I think everyones has gone down significantly during the pandemic but even more so with online school,” Bundy said.

While Bundy’s bullying was severe, often times Covid-shaming can be much more pedestrian. Take Ava Storey’s case, for example. She and her family lived at their home in Mexico for the first two months of online school, and upon her return she received backlash about traveling. 

“I think it [the shaming] was probably because we were traveling internationally, but it was a bummer to hear how poorly some people reacted when I came home,” Senior Ava Storey said.

She and her family stayed on their property most of the time they spent there and made sure to stay very Covid-19 conscious when they did go out. But people didn’t seem to take into consideration the details of their excursion when they chose to shame them and deem them “COVID spreaders”.

Struggle is a term that seems to fit this last year’s events quite well. Families are struggling to make ends meet, students are struggling to get a valid education, the government is struggling to deal with this delicate yet indestructible virus. All across the spectrum individuals are doing their best to make it through these excruciating times. 

So, in our darkest moments, we should not be using judgement as our primary form of connection, but rather channel our inner Luke Bundy and try to find hope for the future and unite ourselves in coming out of this horrible year. I need to be more understanding of why my dear grandmother just wants to give me a hug.

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