2020 has been a historic year due to the magnitude and frequency of hardships that have taken the world by storm. However, in the midst of a global pandemic, a divisive presidential election and societal upheaval, humanity has demonstrated its ability to adapt and persevere through tough times.
When the coronavirus hit the nation in mid-March, technology was truly tested. We rely on our phones, laptops and tablets every single day, but no one could have predicted that everything we knew would become virtual. According to a survey published by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company on Oct. 5, technological advancements have been accelerating exponentially, but COVID-19 has sped up the adoption of technology in all sectors — a change that has been long-needed. To stay relevant, companies and industries moved toward online channels, along with their consumers.
The dramatic rise in technological advancements has also pushed human adaptation. Our societies have had to adjust how we work, how we absorb information and how we communicate. Somehow, instead of entirely collapsing, people have pushed themselves to surpass their limits.
As our world moved online, digital learning quickly hit its limit. Communication and interaction were at an impasse and engaging students seemed near impossible. Education took a massive hit, but teachers truly stood out during this dark time. Teachers had to reorient their routines, and many went above and beyond to ensure their students were still receiving a quality education. One teacher in Texas used a viral video to keep students engaged while teaching math. Another teacher made students interact through simple at-home science experiments. Teachers overcame the hurdle of distance in imaginative ways, demonstrating that it was integral workers, the ones who support the foundation of this country, who were going to pull us through the unimaginable.
The move to digital learning also presented an abundance of opportunities for online education to become a viable alternative to traditional schooling. There have been online universities and programs for years, but they were often overlooked. The pandemic has pushed the outdated education pillar to match current technological trends, and many institutions of higher education may begin expanding their online course offerings. This could become a major game-changer for those who wish to continue their education but cannot afford the traditional route. The pandemic has shown the privilege of higher education and pushed society to increase its accessibility.
As lines between work, school and home blur into a single space, society is beginning to appreciate what we forgot in our days of hustle and bustle. People are beginning to cook and bake more while spending time at home. Some are working out more and enforcing healthier habits that were hard to keep up with outside their homes. We’ve begun appreciating the time with our loved ones, our physical and mental health and slow moments. In a society that was once driven on fast-paced days and a destructive work ethic, the pandemic has forced us to take time to ourselves and rediscover the importance of our lives, whether it’s through taking care of ourselves, returning to hobbies lost to our 9-5 jobs or making the time to connect with the people we love.
Most importantly, the pandemic has brought about the need to change. In these dark times, our society is recognizing the need to treat essential workers fairly. The grocery store employees, health care workers and delivery workers are the ones on the front lines risking their lives to get us through an unprecedented situation, not the rich.
COVID-19 has reshaped education, and we need to show our deeper appreciation of teachers through pay raises, equitable funding, technology and better policies. Our health care system needs to be rewritten to rely on morality and values, not capitalism and corruption. Climate change concerns need to be taken seriously, and mitigation policies need to take effect now. Through these tough months, we’ve had the time to step back and look at what truly matters in our lives and for our future, and now it’s time to take initiative.
An Arab proverb reads, “Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” We cannot grow without adversity. As we move toward the future, we need to ask ourselves if this is our limit and what we can do to surpass the barriers. COVID-19 has reshaped the world for better and worse, but it’s humanity’s choice to adapt and persevere toward a better future.