It was the day before spring break when my history teacher first planted the seed in my head that this little illness (at the time from my perspective) may actually have some larger ramifications than I had originally thought.

It was as we were leaving class that she told us to bring our textbooks home with us rather than leave them in our lockers, just in case of the scenario where school would be cancelled.

At that point, neither my friends nor I had even considered that school would be cancelled due to the virus. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve seen deadly diseases like this in other parts of the world: Zika, Ebola, Cholera, Tuberculosis.

But not once did I ever consider that diseases like this could spread into a nation of the medical magnitude of the U.S. and much less directly impact my life along with the people I know. On the last days of spring break, the news and cancellations began to break: The NBA season is suspended, Tom Hanks contracts COVID-19, Athens Academy suspends in-person classes, and the GHSA suspends all athletic seasons until further notice. It was then that this disease became real to me.

The first emotion I felt was anger. How can everything I have be taken away from me in the matter of a few days?

Gone were the days of track meets, eating lunch at the cafeteria with my friends, or even spending time with other people in general.

My senior season that I’ve been working towards for years is practically gone and I may not walk across the stage for graduation anymore. Even worse, I might not see half the people I have spent the last 14 years of my life with at Athens Academy before I leave for college.

But then I had a sudden realization: things can be much worse. It’s silly to be upset over losing sports for a few months when people are losing family members’ lives due to a disease.

It’s naive to be upset that I can’t walk across a stage to receive my diploma when health professionals are risking their lives everyday for the sake of other people’s lives. For me, and the majority of us, our situations can be much worse.

So how should we view this pandemic? To the extent of my understanding, this is the only time in recent history that there has been a global crisis in which everyone is affected and everyone is fighting for the same cause.

In order to resume our regular lives, we must put them on pause and work together to flatten the curve and end this pandemic. Don’t be selfish. Don’t visit your friends because you’re bored. Don’t attempt to sustain an athletic season with ragtag pickup games or meets in which you gather a large crowd.

Don’t disregard the extremity of this disease because you’re personally not at risk. As a human race, we shouldn’t be worried about our own health, but the health of those around us. Listen to the medical professionals for credible information on this disease, not the public figures that spread false figures. Follow the CDC and WHO guidelines.

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and socially distance yourself. In the end, our lives will regain regularity, but for the time being, we must take these precautions in order for this to happen.

Crises often take a village to resolve, but this pandemic requires the cooperation of the whole world.

Graham Blanks is a senior at Athens Academy. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.

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