The Good Side of This Story

If you ever feel inclined to disagree with someone, now would be a very easy time to do so. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, there is no shortage of differences of opinion: when should the country reopen, how best should we allocate limited resources, how many feet of separation is acceptable… the list goes on. 

If, however, you are tired of the perpetual fighting and find yourself just craving some simplicity, look no further. If there were any one thing that the entire world could agree on, it would be that, as Hayley Kaufman at The Boston Globe says, John Krasinski won the quarantine Internet. From reuniting with his The Office co-star Steve Carell to sending a group of nurses from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to Fenway Park, Krasinski uses his “Some Good News” YouTube channel to highlight a series of sorely-needed positive news stories in this time of constant fear and confusion. “Some Good News” boasts only four episodes, but having already attracted 1.95 million subscribers and a series of high-profile celebrity appearances, it is clearly what a world that has come to a standstill needs. Last Friday, in fact, Krasinski threw the class of 2020 a prom. 

So, in the interest of spreading Krasinski’s message (and entirely stealing his idea), here are some news stories that reflect not the pandemic that seems to spin more and more out of our control every day, but that celebrate the people who hold our flawed little world together. 

Particularly relevant to my life right now are the colleges and universities across the United States that are stepping up to ensure that prospective students do not miss out on the experience they otherwise would have enjoyed during accepted students’ days. From guided virtual tours to Zoom Q&As to university-led discussion forums, the options available to rising college freshmen are numerous. Nothing will replace the excitement of visiting schools or of meeting future classmates in person, but college faculty and students are coming together from home to make the members of the class of 2020 feel special, included, and, most importantly, prepared to decide where to spend the next four years of their lives. 

In other news, social media is exploding with videos of quarantined neighbors finding resourceful ways to spend time together while safely social distancing. A couple of weeks ago, videos of streets in Italy echoing with the sounds of voices singing in unison went viral. Last Thursday, James Corden, the host of the Late Late Show, posted a video of his father playing the saxophone for his neighbors as part of his weekly evening concerts. And in Marblehead, firefighters and police officers ensure that children have the chance to celebrate their birthdays by driving by their houses with blasting sirens. It is in these moments that the general goodness of people becomes eminently clear. Our differences often seem too numerous to count, but our similarities—our love for music, our joy in being with each other, and our desire to make children smile on their birthdays—are infinitely powerful. 

We are all struggling to cope with the fact that our lives have, without warning, veered dramatically off course. But our struggles seem comically infinitesimal when compared with those of our medical workers, people willingly isolating from their families and working grueling hours for the sake of those who have fallen sick. And people around the world have made sure not only that we remember and admire the sacrifices of doctors and nurses, but that our medical staff know just how appreciated they are. In New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the Empire State building flashed red to honor doctors and nurses working to treat virus patients. In Sydney, Australia, Kaylie Smith raised thousands of dollars with her GoFundMe page, Buy Them a Coffee, leading to a national movement that supplied medical staff with over 20,000 cups of coffee in three weeks—a small gesture to make long shifts just the slightest bit easier. In England, as part of the Clap For Our Carers campaign, hundreds of thousands of citizens from around the country take time every Thursday evening at 8 pm to walk outside and applaud their National Health Service staff. Such a tradition has spread across the world to places such as France, Spain, India, the United States, and even Turkey. Hundreds of languages have melded into unified, clamoring applause, a symbol of gratitude that needs no translation. 

The most frustrating aspects of life are those that are uncontrollable. In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, these are hardly in short supply. We cannot control the exponential increase in the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths. We cannot control the fact that events will be cancelled, that celebrations will be rescheduled, and that social gatherings will never be the same. We can, however, choose what to focus on. Any story can be told in a million different ways by a million different people. In a world with seven billion members, one person’s terrible day is very likely another’s best. So, this is our story. It will be told in textbooks, in news articles, and in precautionary tales to future generations… it will be immortalized forever. How will we remember it? We must remember the fear, we must remember the tragedy, we must remember those we lost. But we must also never forget that the world, placed in front of an unscalable mountain, was confronted with two choices: sink into the ground or push its way to the top.

And so the world began to hike.

Jillian Lederman

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