SMOLDER: Now is time for self-reliance
Column: Breaker of Chains
I know that things in our world are very doom and gloom. I wake up every day like everyone else, turn on the TV, scroll through my feed and see the generally poor state of affairs. The virus of COVID-19 has claimed many people’s lives, some of whom I personally know and some I know but not personally.
It seems to be very easy for anyone to get extremely discouraged during times like these. The entire world seems to be constantly falling apart and there is no clear conclusion in the future. We as a population, especially in the United States, are floating in the abyss of nothingness hoping there is a light somewhere.
One victim among others that were claimed during this horrible pandemic would be jazz music icon, Ellis Marsalis Jr. Regardless of whether this person means much to you, I was watching a news segment recently on the TV show "60 Minutes" where there was an interview going on with Wynton Marsalis, one of Ellis Marsalis Jr.’s children. Wynton Marsalis was talking about his father passing away due to complications with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and one part of the interview which really stuck out to me was actually not about jazz at all.
The interviewer asked a question that went along the lines of, "If Ellis were still alive and struggling as many musicians are nowadays what would he say to his son, who would have also been struggling as a jazz musician?" Wynton Marsalis said that his father would have turned to him and said, “What are you gonna do?"
Ellis Marsalis Jr. had a very self-reliant personality and was a very active person up until the day he died. Regardless, I find the philosophy present in the sentence to be very powerful and one that transcends Ellis Marsalis Jr. and jazz.
I think now more than ever it is so easy to sit in sadness at the loss we are facing, and for some that is very warranted. I also think that it is crucially important, now more than ever, to pick ourselves up and truly show strength to our fellow Americans as well, as to all people on this planet.
I know for myself, I have been trying to keep productive during these times. I have furthermore been trying to be extra receptive to help out my peers with school work due to the lack of support academically we all seem to be encountering currently. I think teamwork is incredibly important during this crisis, not just for school, but for all parts of life currently.
Even though things are really hard right now, eventually there will be an end. I think it is important to think about how in the future you want to look back at how you acted during COVID-19 and be proud of your character and not regretful.
COVID-19 is really hard, no pandemic is easy, and this one specifically affects us all personally. I think it is due to these extreme hardships that we will find true character in our society. For now, I think each and every one of us needs to figure out what the statement, “What are you gonna do?” means to us.
Zachary Smolder is a School of Engineering first-year majoring in mechanical engineering. His column, "Breaker of Chains," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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