NYT Runner up for First Prize

At school, I often foolishly indulged in pessimism. When I got a low score on a test, I’d think, “Well, there goes my future.” Thinking this way did not help at all.

“Should We Be More Pessimistic?” is an especially valid question now, with the ever-present threat of the coronavirus looming on the horizon everywhere we turn. The whole world seems to scream about it. Headlines bombard us with a barrage of unwelcome news: “Cases are SWELLING – the HIGHEST They’ve Been Since the Pandemic Started!” “Coronavirus Deaths Could Reach MILLIONS!” There is no escape from the grim reality that the virus’ reign has caused.

So what’s the silver lining here? What good could possibly come out of a situation like this? Before the virus, no one cared a whole lot about anyone they didn’t directly associate with. Essential workers were under-appreciated. We were pretty self-centered.

But the virus has changed that. Now people look out for one another, even strangers. We applaud our brave essential workers because they are the heroes of this era. We donate our money to people who are less fortunate than us. We spend time with our families and really get to know each other. Underneath all the death and suffering, the virus has helped us reunite. It has helped us connect in ways we never could before the pandemic.

It’s as if the virus is Christmas to the Grinch: it makes our hearts grow two, three, or even four sizes bigger.

Even though we are physically apart, our hearts are an indestructible force – of love.­­

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