Sofia Babool: What changes we can make in the world right now, matters

By Sofia Babool

As I walked through the frozen aisle with my mom, she stared in awe as a few packets of EMPTY-FROZEN-FOOD-SHELVES-frozen vegetables were left from the usually fully stocked supermarket. I picked up the unfamiliar vegetable packet and told my mom that I had never imagined that I would see a sight like this in the United States at the age of 20. My mom laughed as she placed the vegetable packet in our cart and said, “Your dad and I have been through this before; we always came out on the other end better than how we walked in.”

Living through a pandemic as someone from the Gen Z generation is something I thought only occurred in films. For some reason, I thought that our world, our science, and our people were so ready for any disaster that it could perhaps never touch the lives of my generation. The talk of potential curfews and quarantines seems so foreign to me, and yet quite familiar to my parents, who have hailed from nations that have undergone these limitations before.

What we do with each minute starting now, matters.

COVID-19 seems to be the talk of every conversation these days, as I am sure will occur for quite some time. However, as more and more people are tested positive for the virus, it seems to set off this automatic trigger to quickly put some hand sanitizer on or run to CDCcoronavirusthe grocery store in case of a national lockdown. The sense of panic, anger, frustration, shock, and overall fear is starting to set in, even on the youngest generations. As part of a generation that likes to question, I keep thinking whether this virus is hyped up or whether it will actually hurt my family. How is there no cure for a virus in the 21st century? How can we focus on elections when we do not even know how to handle a pandemic? Is the media’s information fully correct or are they keeping the worse out to not cause panic? If school is going to be online for the semester, is it actually transmissible through children?

How we choose to treat each other now, matters.

The gloomy weather and nightly rains, just seems to place an eerie feeling around my home in Dallas. The runners we used to greet no longer rule the pathways, the line at the nearest ice cream store has suddenly dissipated, and, above all, my Jamatkhana has closed until March 31st. Parts of my life that meant so much to me seemed to have been placed on hold, almost as if somebody has taken what I value most, put it in their pocket, and walked away. Just last night though, a different idea came to me; an idea that I believe will take our Jamat and our country to a new level of survival.

What changes we can make in the world right now, matters.

Take a moment to step away from the science, the facts, the news; put the hand sanitizer down and just breathe. Yes, our world is a movie currently on pause, but do our lives have to be? Suddenly time has been stretched because you have been told to not go to work, not go to school, stop using public transportation, and continuously stay away from large crowds; the question then becomes, what do we do with this time? The gift of time is the most valuable gift that we have; suddenly, loads of it has fallen on each of us.

What we do with each minute starting now, matters.

How we choose to treat each other now, matters.

What changes we can make in the world right now, matters.

Rather than it being another weekend to catch up on work or to get one more workout in at the gym, society itself seems to be in limbo. While rumors of a quarantine or the lack of Jamatkhana for so many days sometimes deeply disturbs me, it reminds me to actually take the time to perhaps cook that dish I have been wanting to, or maybe read that book on my shelf that just sits there, waiting for a perfect day when I have no responsibilities or obligations. Moments with my family that have been simply “hello” and “goodbye” may actually morph into  conversations that mean something; maybe learning a new subject through the vast online courses that have seemed to erupt might be another path. Yes, social distancing comes across as a world that is only shown through films, but it actually might be an opportunity for reconnection. Those poems that have always told me to smell the roses have always seemed so unrealistic and fake; but I guess now, the whole world has a chance to do just that.

As a kid born in 1999, I personally have never experienced a pandemic; however, knowing that the entire world is somewhat in this together, makes me see these quiet weeks of March as something  more than just empty streets. Suddenly, I see moments of distant families having dinner together for the first time in a while, friends stepping up their relationships to a new level of compassion, and above all, a sense of how we will all leave this journey of COVID-19 better prepared than when we first came in. I guess the world will always remember this year as one of uncertainty, confusion, and, maybe for some, desperation; or, we can remember it as the year of reconnection, reignition, and rededication to a life that values genuine human connection more than the creation of “friends” through the touch of a button.

Sofia Babool is currently a sophomore at UT Dallas (The University of Texas at Dallas). Prior to starting at UT Dallas, Sofia had the opportunity to deliver a Ted Talk on the perspective of “underdeveloped countries” during her senior year of high school. At UT Dallas she writes for the school paper “The Mercury”.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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