Entry #34 – A Letter About COVID-19

「生きてゆけ」
僕らは今、風の中で
それぞれの空を見上げてる
ぶつかっていいんだ
泣いたっていいんだ
かならず答えはあるから

– Sashida Fumiya, “花になれ”
lyrics from nihongolearner

Hey all, it’s Kohaku. I hope everyone is safe and healthy and doing well this week.

Before we get into the bulk of this journal entry, a few updates:
→ Yes, I finished Love Letters to the World We Made and submitted it on time for the art reception in the spring! Yay.
→ I forgot to mention this last time. Not long ago I learned how to create proper page jumps on WordPress, so I’ve been working on incorporating them in useful places across the site. These will especially show up in serial prose posts, which I usually bookend with an intro and outro leading to the previous chapter/part, next chapter/part, and a link to the table of contents. That table of contents link used to just take you to the top of the Longer Works page, but now they’ll jump you to the exact portion of the Longer Works page that corresponds to that particular work.
→ Besides page jumps, I’m looking into other ways to make this site more organized and streamline reader experience. Stay tuned for more updates on that.
→ Also forgot to mention this last time– I finally kicked back and invested in a paid WordPress plan. So, no more coming across those strange advertisements that used to be all over the site!

I think that’s about all, so let’s just get into it.

Today, I wanted to add my two cents to the discussion surrounding COVID-19. I know everyone’s talking about it and I don’t want to seem like I’m doing it just because everyone else is doing it, but some things have come up and I had to say something.

I’m sure everyone is at least somewhat aware of the COVID-19 situation globally; for me, the biggest personal impacts will be how the situation evolves in Taiwan, Japan, and the States. All around me, schools and universities are shifting classes online, travel bans and quarantines are being implemented, large public events like concerts and school graduations are being cancelled, and people are panic-buying seemingly entire markets and grocery stores. There’s also been a visible rise in general anti-Asian sentiment, sometimes evolving into blatant discrimination and violence.

While all this was happening, I kept having this one overwhelming thought: we can’t let this divide us.

Yes, COVID-19 is highly contagious in our densely-populated, globalized world. Yes, it is important that preventative measures be taken to stop community spread, to stop global spread. Yes, we should not underestimate this disease and its potential consequences on our lives.

But no, COVID-19 should not be politicized. No, COVID-19 should not be used to justify anti-Asian racism. No, COVID-19 should not create barriers between people, between human connection and human communication, between communities and countries and even continents. It should not mean that we stop thinking about and reaching out for and loving each other.

My hope in the coming weeks is that COVID-19 will help us recognize our one global humanity. I hope that even in times of travel bans and quarantines, people come together and take care of each other. I want people to reach out to their loved ones and remember how to love – and I hope we remember how to love strangers, too.

It’s okay to feel fear. It’s okay to be anxious, even terrified, about the future – whether your reasons are COVID-19 or climate change or anything else. Fear as a human emotion is valid. But fear should not lead to isolation. Fear should not lead to lack of communication. Fear should not lead to violence.

And that goes for everyone. People of all races, all genders, all sexes, all nationalities, all religions, people in all states of wealth and documentation status and housing, people who have families and people who have been rejected by them – all people. Society may create situations that favor certain people in times like these, but COVID-19 itself, climate change itself, these things that create fear in themselves don’t discriminate. The aspects of your identity that you think define you don’t excuse you from the audience of this letter. We are all human. So let’s act like it.

And if this world’s, this global society’s actions and reactions aren’t reason enough? Faced with stakes like these, at this point, I honestly don’t think we have any other choice.

I still have faith. I still believe that people can be good, that events can turn out well, that bright futures may exist. I just hope that whatever happens in the next few weeks and months and years doesn’t prove me wrong.

Moving forward, please, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones and your fellow human beings. It’s the most, and least, we can do.

Lots of love,

K.T.

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