Editorial: Putting the present into perspective

It was just another day at a mall in Seoul, South Korea, for one shopper until he was met with complete shock. An elderly woman collapsed in front of him and first responders wearing hazmat suits soon arrived at the scene. This situation occurred shortly before the number of COVID-19 cases exploded across South Korea, one of the first countries to encounter the wrath of the disease. According to the World Health Organization, also known as WHO, South Korea had the second most reported cases in the world at that time, following China. As of May 25, South Korea has the 46th most reported cases in the world.

“When I saw that, I never went [to the mall] again,” said Brian Bok, a student in Seoul, in a video conference. “It was so scary.”

Back in Northbrook, many of us are worried about how we cannot see our friends, how our hair has grown out of control and how we are running out of Netflix shows to watch.

We are losing sight of the bigger picture.

Many of us are caught up in the lack of normalcy and the sudden inability to practice our traditions and daily routines. And while it is completely acceptable to grieve the loss of this normalcy, some of us are overlooking the life-or-death situation more people are met with every day. According to WHO, the United States has the most reported cases and deaths of COVID-19 in the world as of May 25.

Everyone seems to be losing something at this time. For instance, Bok said he has been working for almost three years to be recruited to play soccer in college.

“All of that might just disappear,” said Bok. “But I really can’t complain about it at this point because I know there are other people who’ve been affected by the coronavirus worse than me, like, way worse than me.”

We are not asking you to stop grieving or ignore all of the canceled events, games, assemblies and concerts. It is OK to be upset about missing out on your first Springfest as a freshman. It is OK to be upset about not attending traditional Prom or Graduation as a senior. Or, like Bok, it is OK to be upset over losing an entire season of your treasured sport. To be upset like this is to be human.

But, where did our priorities go? It is time to put this situation into perspective.

Use the grief as motivation to spread appreciation for essential workers on social media. When it is safe to do so, tie a blue bow to your mailbox to show support for first responders and frontline workers. It can even be something as simple as taking a moment to consider all of those who have lost their lives, as well as those fighting to stay alive.

Once we get through this pandemic, it is also important to continue to keep this mindset going forward. We cannot forget about those who suffer in a given situation more than ourselves. 

“It’s OK [to be] upset about coronavirus,” said Bok. “But look at the bigger picture.”