We’re sure you’ve heard it a lot in the past few weeks, but we feel it’s still worth repeating: We live in strange, strange times. The COVID-19 epidemic has hit America and the rest of the world harder than anyone could have expected. A month ago, we were all together in the Student Media office cracking jokes and getting ready to run a satire piece about COVID-19; now, we editors are trapped at home, putting together this web edition of the magazine, hundreds of miles apart and despite the fact that we remain connected, feeling quite desperately alone.

Self-isolation sucks. Social distancing sucks. Plans being canceled and the future being uncertain and commencement being canceled and the fact that we’re going to graduate into a historic economic crisis and the fact that Trader Joe’s is out of snacks and everyone is out of toilet paper — it all sucks. And we’re not going to pretend it’s all sunshine and rainbows here, because it’s not. Even though we know we’re going to get through this eventually, it’s really, really hard not to feel a little like it’s the end of the world. So many things have come to a grinding halt, which is bad enough — and even though most of us at UTD are going to survive this without major complications, many of us have those we know or love who are genuinely at risk of sickness or even death.

It’s because of this that we wanted to write this month’s ed desk directly to you, reader. Everyone making it out of this pandemic depends on you. We’re sure you’ve heard the phrases “social distancing” and “self-isolation” and “quarantine” and “no more than 10 people” enough times in the past few weeks to make you feel sicker than COVID-19 ever could. And there’s a reason for that, which we can’t overstate: Isolating ourselves, observing good hygiene, and not coming into close contact with other people is the most effective way to slow the spread of the disease. You may not think this is a big deal for you — after all, you’re probably a young, reasonably healthy college student. Most people our age don’t even show symptoms, and if they do, then it’s barely worse than the common cold. 

If that’s the most you think of this pandemic, then grow up. This is bigger than you. A lack of toilet paper and Trader Joe’s snacks, an uncertain future, canceled plans, and social distancing and self-isolation getting in the way of your daily life simply aren’t the most important things right now. Our healthcare system does not have the infrastructure to be able to handle a pandemic, and the elderly and immunocompromised are the most at risk. These people’s lives depend on a community disease prevention effort, which includes everyone. Because we don’t live in a country with universal healthcare, we also have an obligation to help ensure no one has to make the choice between getting treatment and being able to financially support themselves and their families. In order to keep our loved ones who fall under these categories safe, we all have to do our part and make simple sacrifices.

COVID-19 is shaping up to be the one of the great crises of our generation, and how we rise to meet this crisis will be how we are remembered. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it absolutely should. Before COVID-19 had struck its first victim, humanity was (and still is!) facing the global climate crisis, arguably the greatest existential challenge humanity has ever faced. Our generation often criticizes older generations for denying the seriousness of climate change, for being so selfish as to not consider us, those who will be most affected. We want you to read this, and read it again:

If you downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 because you can afford to, because you won’t be as affected, you are no better.

We live in frustrating, lonesome, tiring, uncertain, scary, and strange times; we are facing the greatest immediate threat our generation has seen so far. We, and you, have a historic duty to rise to meet this threat by doing everything we can to slow the spread of the disease. In spite of everything, we at AMP have hope that if we truly rally together, if we do our duty, we can rise and overcome and come out the other side of this stronger than we were before.

Stay home. Wash your hands. Take care of yourself and others. And above all things, no matter how hard it gets or how lonely it feels, have hope. Always, always, always hold onto hope.

We’ll see you on the other side, comets.