A virus has been rapidly spreading, killing, wrecking everything in its path—leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. Now while it would be easier to believe that this virus can be cured with an injection, a pill or bed rest, it simply cannot. This virus is nothing new to the planet, and no, it is not COVID-19, even though the coronavirus did ignite a singular match, the fire had already engulfed the planet. This fire, this disease that has no simple cure, is the virus known as human greed— it will kill us if we let it, and burn our planet to the ground.
When COVID-19 started to spread, The United States saw people flock to stores and stock up on what they deemed as essential. They stocked up on enough toilet paper, hand sanitizer and groceries to last a month; which left little for other people who were not stocking up but actually needed the items the other shoppers were hoarding. It was not just the rare few that did this, it was the majority, who out of fear stocked up with little regard to those who did not or could not afford to. Stores eventually started limiting the number of certain items people could buy at a time, and even then, merchandise was flying off the shelves. No one was looking out for each other, and the “every man for himself” mentality left many, especially elderly people, without what they need.
Another example of mankind’s selfishness during this virus outbreak is the labeling of people as, “essential workers.” The majority of workers labeled essential are not working in hospitals, but large chain corporations like gas stations, fast food restaurants, and grocery stores. These workers already receive minimum or near minimum wage and are looked down upon by society, but it is funny how now that there is a pandemic their employers and the government label them as essential. What I hear when I hear essential, is expendable. These corporations do not care about staying open for the people’s convenience, they care about losing money. They do not care about their employees’ safety, they care about having workers to keep their company running. These billionaire corporations, like Walmart, did not care about the people before the pandemic as they provided “wages that are so low many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs,” Senator Bernie Sanders stated. If chain corporations were providing the bare minimum prior to a global pandemic, they should not be able to put on a facade of concern for their employees because they were not advocating for their wellbeing to begin with. Now, that is not to say that we do not need gas stations and grocery stores open during the duration of this pandemic, but there are better ways of doing it. There need to be more limited hours as well as a lower limited capacity of a business at a time because even with the current restrictions, people flocking to grocery stores are still putting workers in very dangerous circumstances. Also, if the businesses cared about their employees they would be offering hazard pay as well as access to affordable health care if they do get COVID-19. No one should be forced to work during this time because they fear not getting the paycheck they will be missing. Business employees as well as hospital staff also need access to more gloves and masks. Many people are being forced to reuse one mask for a whole day. After all, in the household of an “essential” worker, no one is safe, and the virus will continue to spread and take lives, leaving the working class to once again be put at risk while the rich sit back and watch their pockets grow. It is better to lose employees than money, right?
As the stay at home order continues to be extended, people have begun protesting. These protests are gathering in large groups, not only putting themselves at risk but risking spreading the disease further. Many of them are holding signs, a few of which read, “I need a haircut”, “a massage is essential”, “Covid-19 is a lie”, and “my constitutional rights are essential”. These people are simply protesting because they are tired or being in their home and want their first world luxuries back. Imagine risking human lives because you want a haircut. Imagine applauding our hospital staff, but continuing to ignore the stay at home order which will make their lives be on the line for longer. These protests are just another example of how human beings are willing to be selfish to get what they want, not even what they need.
Something that was already obvious prior to COVID-19, was that we are killing our planet. The way we are living for convenience, business expansion, and money-making is contributing to global warming, and pollution. Since the world has been quarantined and travel is restricted, our planet has been greatly impacted and been given the opportunity to recharge. In Venice, Italy the canals are completely clear and dolphins are filling them because water traffic is down. All around the world the air quality is improving and waterways are clearer, specifically in places notorious for high levels of pollution; such as Los Angeles, Beijing, Bangalore and as previously mentioned, Venice (TIME Magazine). Global greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions have drastically decreased in cities that once were ruled by them, and their smog-filled sky is cleaner by the day. Our planet is healing as a result of us being sick, which is why things can not go back to normal when this pandemic ends.
We are our planet’s deadly disease.
Patient: Earth. Symptoms: rising temperatures, ozone depletion, water pollution, deforestation, and animal extinction. Cause: humankind. Cure: you. On scales as small as the way we handle ourselves in a community, to the way our goods are produced, changes need to be made. This is a time where money is status, but our status means nothing if our greed hurts people and our planet dies and us alongside it. It is going to take us being UNITED, to make a real CHANGE. We are the disease, but we can also be a cure if we really want a better world.
Sources: Time magazine