Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Abigail Lee, Copy Editor

There is something incredibly surreal about ending your high school career with a global pandemic. I think both myself and many seniors here at Issaquah high school had alternate plans for these final months; plans that looked very different from social distancing, fervid hand washing, and nervously thinking about the predicted  “200,000 to 1.7 million people” in this article by the New York Times, that could die in our country. Looking both at the world that surrounds all of us right now and our own personalized experiences of living cooped up in our homes has reminded me of T.S. Elliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men.” 

We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men / Leaning together / Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! /Our dried voices, when / We whisper together / Are quiet and meaningless / As wind in dry grass / or rats’ feet over broken glass / In our dry cellar” 

This is the third week of social isolation and personally, the monotony has gotten to me. Like I am a ghost haunting the same rooms,  roaming the same quiet neighborhoods, and having the same passionless discussions with the same people. “I would ask you how your day is but I know we both don’t have anything more to say than we did yesterday–and the day before and the day before that.”  I think, however, there is something deeper to this cycle of boredom than a weariness of the unchanging. It is hopelessness. The dread sourced from a diet of CNN Coronavirus Town Halls in the evening, lunches of Twitter feeds full of Kickstarters asking for help in paying medical bills and rent, and a disheartening breakfast of worries about the grandparents that live with you and the ones who do not. With nothing to distract myself, I have been gorging tragedy and I am left bloated with sadness and fears for both the juvenile “traumas” and the profound. I feel like the hollow men standing on the edge of the River Styx, roaming the realms between life and death, grief and initiative; feeling hyper-aware of both my privileges and my limits. 

  Despite all this fatalistic thinking, I see breaks of lights among this self-inflicted forest of doom. Just as the curve comes up, it must come down. I see communities coming together, people bridging the gaps of isolation. For every bad apple who buys out stores upon stores of hand sanitizer to resell on Amazon, there are multitudes of folks from everywhere calling out this behavior and seeing to it that we set limits and work in solidarity in these trying times. 

This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends” 

In this time where–unlike Elliot’s poem–the world appears to be going out with a bang, I hope that we can manage to go out with more than a whimper. A tragedy of this size deserves a movement of hope and reform that is mighty enough to curb what may feel like our demise. A cry out to a world in chaos, shouting louder than any of the disasters that may plague us.