Unsigned: We’re Not All in This Together

   From the beginning of the pandemic back in March to now, universal messages of goodwill have abounded: we’re all in this together, we’re all fighting the same battle, we aren’t alone in this. We, the Editorial Board of the Commander, are sick of hearing it.

   Altogether too often, those who portend messages of unity and positivity are those who are largely unaffected by the pandemic due to their class or income, according to the New York Times. They are the Arnold Schwartzeneggers and Gal Gadots of society, speaking about how important it is to be safe and follow COVID-19 safety protocol from the comfort of their private pools and beautiful, massive offices (nytimes.com). They act like those few words are their required acknowledgement of the pandemic, their participation points for the day before they can get back to their lives of excess. But it’s easy to play the part when these people have not had to make a trip to the grocery store in the past decade and whose houses are on swaths of property larger than a city block. 

   It’s clear that lower-income workers are far more at risk than white-collar workers and the wealthy; they are the people who work essential jobs and have to keep risking exposure to the virus day after day to secure a paycheck. As one columnist from the Washington Post put it, “Lower-income people are at greater risk… [They] have to keep going out to work… For many with blue-collar jobs, it’s business as usual — that is, if they haven’t been laid off” (washingtonpost.com). “The pandemic has caused plenty of heartache and misery for many Americans, however there are families who have been hit harder during this lockdown. Those who have lost their jobs or are unable to work online have been unable to make ends meet. The financial aid has not been enough for the millions of people who need to pay for expensive bills and the bare necessities,” said Senior Francesca Kading. 

   Even as we are beginning to have some hope that the end of the pandemic is nearing, the inequality levelled by COVID-19 in every aspect is striking. Vaccinations are finally being rolled out, but the wealthiest of people end up being the ones who get the vaccines and best care first, even when it should be the other way around. In their 2021 Annual Letter, Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates stated, “The pandemic will unleash… immunity inequality… where the wealthiest people have access to a COVID-19 vaccine, while the rest of the world doesn’t… As things stand now, low- and middle-income countries will only be able to cover about one out of five people who live there over the next year. In a world where global health is local, that should concern all of us” (gatesnotes.com). 

   The pandemic has not been a great equalizer — it’s been the opposite. It has torn open our society, exposing layer upon layer of classism, division, economic inequality, food insecurity, and more. If the past year has been an indication of anything, it’s that actually, we aren’t in this together at all. We all deal with different pandemic-related challenges and the upper layers of society aren’t really reaching down to offer their help, instead choosing to remain in their pristine little bubbles, unconscious of the world outside (nytimes.com).  

   We should know by now that ignorance gets us nowhere. We might not be getting through this together, but without complete cooperation from everyone, we won’t get through this at all. So, continue to do your part: wear a mask, stay home if you can, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often, and do your best to stay socially distanced. We might not be experiencing the same struggles, but there are always things we can do to minimize our harm to others — and everyone should be doing their part to contribute to public wellbeing.