Art: Andrew Provost, 42Fifty

John F. Kennedy once said, “when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” It has long since been debated whether or not this claim by President Kennedy is true. I personally couldn’t care less. The metaphor stands.

If you’ve been living on a rock other than our green one for the past couple of months, then I’m sorry to be the one to break the news about COVID-19. It’s a debilitating disease that is wiping out the elderly and immuno-compromised citizens of this nation like the 10th plague, and no slaughtered lambs are stopping it anytime soon. As for everyone else who knows COVID front to back, I’m sorry that’s all you’ve been reading about lately. Well, that, and the ever-changing MCU release schedule that has nearly everyone sobbing at the thought of waiting even longer to see the new Doctor Strange. 

During this COVID fiasco, stay-at-home orders were signed left and right, locking people (those who would listen, that is) in their homes; all in the effort to curb the spread and offer relief to the hospitals. On President Trump’s order, states have been controlling the length and extension of their quarantines individually. Some states have even begun opening up restaurants and other public services again, such as Tennessee and Colorado. Illinois, however, has had its order extended to May 30th. Yay. This is exactly how I pictured capping off my senior year and starting my final summer before college. 

Sorry, I couldn’t resist making at least one complaint about all this. Unfortunately, there’s enough of those all over social media already. What I really want to talk about ties back to that quote in the first paragraph.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is, in fact, a crisis, not only nationwide but worldwide. With over 3 million cases and roughly 215 thousand deaths, there’s nothing else to call it. Now, I know there are many people who think this is a bunch of “political hoopla” and that “none of this is real.” They’re wrong. At least about this not being real. It is very real. Though, I can’t help but wonder if there is some “political hoopla-ing” going on. 

I understand the stay-at-home order. It makes sense. If you want something to stop spreading, stop giving it more space to spread to. It’s just like spreading butter on a roll. The less space to work with, the less spread is going on the roll. But, with everyone being locked inside like this, it’s beginning to feel like freedom is being stripped away. In a country known for William Wallace’s proportions of freedom, it feels like a complete 180. A 180 that might just be the “opportunity” in this crisis. Not for the citizens, though. Someone much more powerful. Someone much more orange.

I personally despise politics. I feel like there’s no easier way to tear down civility than by throwing a group of republicans and democrats into a room with nothing but a single picture of any president. One faction will always like them, while the other will despise them. It’s a device meant to keep us divided. At least that’s how I see it. (Don’t take me too seriously. After all, I am just a human of Gen Z.) So I am not looking at this situation from a political view. Rather, I am looking at this situation from a general view. The general’s view.

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Right now, America is weak. We are in the midst of a pandemic, we are losing jobs, hospitals are filling, and people are dying left and right. So, what better time would there be for a metaphorical Cobra Kai leg sweep? America is looking for any cure/solution right now. Our current President could use this to his advantage, at a very crucial time in battle. President Trump has previously mentioned extending his term, a notion that can send shivers down any anti-Trump supporter’s spine. Whether this was all talk or not is inconsequential, because if he were to extend his term during this time of crisis, there’d be no way to tell when it would end. Even if it did, similarly to how President Bush was re-elected for invoking nationalism due to his handling of 9/11 and invasion of Iraq, President Trump could be re-elected the exact same way based on his “handling” of our current crisis. In fact, he’d be a fool if he didn’t use this crisis to his advantage. This is his “opportunity”.

Again, I despise politics, but it’s hard not to form opinions on a President when they’re plastered everywhere from SNL to memes. I may not be as politically invested, but I do surely believe there is someone out there better suited for the presidency than Donald Trump. Sure, he may not be the worst, but he is far from the best. Whether it’s his racist Zero-Tolerance policy or his utter disregard for Native Americans; he has given me many reasons not to support him. Yet, none of these are mine. His crassness and child-like behavior shake me to my core. But, I digress. I didn’t write this article to bash our president. Hundreds of news sources do that already. 

I am trying to stir intellectual thought. To offer an insight into what is going through my mind and maybe spark something in everyone else’s. Freedoms are currently being withheld, but not without purpose. However, when the time comes, it is in the people’s hands how the future will unfold. Whether or not more freedoms will be sacrificed. Whether or not the people win the war or the politicians. Everyone may be locked up, but that doesn’t mean they have to shut up.

Now, the idea that the country could be being played like a game of chess or Risk is enough to give me chills. I don’t recall the last time I slept, how many days it’s been. I hope none of these concerns are legitimate and these are just my crazy ramblings. I hope that this is not the new America. I hope this quarantine ends soon. I hope for the summer. And I guess that’s all one can really do right now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and continue to hope that this horrible nightmare is in our rearview mirror very soon.

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