We Live In Different Times


Leonard Blachly-Preston, Staff Writer

Part 1: Current Events

“Let’s start with the obvious. We live in different times.”

Our forty-fourth President Barack Obama has calmed some in times of panic, but people are wondering how long this will last.  Our lives have all taken an unexpected turn, and for many, it’s a turn for the worse.

We live in times where things seem bleak. It is impossible not to see that something has changed. That something is different. Many changes happen each day. People are put into freezers to be buried, and others are given permission to leave the hospital after getting better. It is a different story for everyone on this planet right now.

Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the presidential race, leaving only Joseph R. Biden Jr. to be the Democratic presidential nominee. Even though he has dropped out, over his five-year presidential campaign, Sanders has had a lasting imprint on what the Democratic party will stand for, and what a Democrat will promise as president. Some people thought that he was a radical, that his ideas did not stand for the good of the nation, but others saw through the side that yelled at people and saw new hope for the United States. Either way, the hope that he brought is gone, disappearing as he falls through the mist of politics, and turns to focus on a more present issue at this time: The global pandemic.

It has made people stay at home for weeks at a time without going outside. Hamilton Grange 7th grade student Andres Perez cannot remember the last time that he went outside. He said, “I mean, I haven’t been outside in weeks, that’s for sure. I honestly can’t remember the exact date of the last time I was outside. I’ve been inside the whole month of April.”

Many others are also taking the advice from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and staying inside like fellow seventh-grader Sharlene Almanzar, who said, “The last time I went out? It was two days after schools closed. I haven’t been outside since then, because I don’t want to bring the virus home.”

Barack Obama seems to be handling the situation very well in comparison to Hamilton Grange students, almost all of whom have been inside, at virtual school. The former President recorded a video about his experiences while coping with the virus, acknowledging that this is not at all normal and that he is behind Joe Biden for president. He said in the video, “Choosing Joe to be my Vice President was one of the best decisions I ever made. He helped me stop the Ebola outbreak from becoming the pandemic that we are living in today…That is why I am proud to endorse Joe Biden to be the forty-sixth President of the United States of America.” The former President then went on to say that he is trying to give all he could to help fight the virus and that he and Biden may be forming a plan to help fund small businesses that make the economy what it is so that we do not lose too much from the pandemic.  Unfortunately, by then, he was speaking empty words in the opinion of some people, such as the protesters in Michigan.

 A now-famous sign at the protests reads that small businesses are the heart of America. Though the economy is stabilized by all of the small businesses, some disagree with this sign because it has spread a very controversial message. Many people have relatives and friends who are sick, and to have these people spread the virus even more is infuriating them. 

In response to the ney-sayers, the protester holding the sign declared to the people rallying, “The small stores are the heart and soul of the US of A, and Mr. President said that we should protest the closure, and I’m here because we won’t have a vaccine for 18 months, at least, and they can’t keep us inside for that long. They just can’t. We need to be out there, and I need money. It’s not fair to us that we need to stay inside while they fool ‘round. No one can keep me from selling my things. Heck no!”

This goes to show that not all people agree with the CDC’s statement that taking the needed social distancing protocols is the correct way to stop the spread of COVID-19, and they think that because it seems increasingly clear that there will not be a vaccine for a while, no matter how prolifically scientists and doctors are working. They are worried about the economy, as the protesters said, but there might be other reasons behind this, which is Trump support.

The protester had an odd line, saying, “The President asked us to come out.” Yes, it is true that Donald Trump told people via Twitter to come out and protest the social distancing measures. According to the New York Times,  “In a series of all-caps tweets, Mr. Trump declared “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” — two states whose Democratic governors have imposed social distancing restrictions that have shut down businesses and schools and forced people to remain at home. He also tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”  

These tweets were what sparked many of the protests, and because of this, the governors of Texas, Georgia and other Southern states not greatly impacted by the pandemic have decided to allow the reopening of many non-essential businesses. The only condition is that they must follow all of the necessary protocols such as wearing masks, keeping customers more than six feet apart, and wiping every piece of equipment down after a customer uses it. 

The decision from these governors actually upset Trump, because he had been made a fool by the tweets he had posted about protesting social distancing measures, and he felt like he needed to at least try to reclaim his image a little. So in his daily briefings about the developments of COVID-19 in the US, he spoke against those decisions, and asked the governors of those states to not go ahead with opening their non-essential businesses, but it was a failure. The biggest worry is that because of this, the states with their businesses open will become a COVID-19 hotspot, like New York did because they are crowding each other, so they may end up regretting doing out when they had the chance, no matter how beautiful it is.  

On top of this, during a recent morning briefing from Trump on the developments of COVID-19 in the US, he said that since bleach and disinfectant from companies like Lysol can kill the germs of the virus, a smart cure if you have the coronavirus would be to swallow some of the bleach or disinfectant, because it would kill all of the germs that were harming your body. This has been all over the news, as soon as he said this, Lysol issued a statement all over social media that said, “Our products should not be swallowed under any circumstances. They contain chemicals that will travel through your immune system, and get in your blood, resulting in sickness and death.” 

Though he may be the Commander in Chief of our country, it does not mean that he is the one to give medical advice. Trump later claimed that it was a sarcastic comment and he simply wanted to see how all of the journalists would react to this, but the official expert who was sitting in on the conference could barely keep a straight face after the President made that comment, and she is almost as much as a celebrity as the comment was simply for her reaction.

Part 2: Interview With My Sister

Because of all of the decisions that are being made by the government, students all over the globe are being impacted, one of those people being a second-grade student and the writer’s sister Gail Blachly-Preston. Gail is 8-years-old and is attending PS 513, also known as the Castle Bridge School. Her life has really changed, from having a daily routine of leaving the house, now to almost being angry at the government. This is the first time that she has been able to understand what is fully going on, and yet she doesn’t want to.

She said in an interview that Trump did not act well in response to the virus. “I think that the government should have acted a lot more quickly. If he had, then I, for one would not have been as surprised that schools were closing, because I was really shocked. He should have told us quicker,” She said.

She has been overhearing a lot from conversations and when people have the news on TV, and she has learned a lot about how Trump acted in the midst of this crisis and she was very angered by this.

Gail also felt that the panic buying at the beginning of the crisis was not needed. “I think that people stocking up on toilet paper is a big overreaction because one of the supermarkets I’ve been to didn’t have a single roll of toilet paper on their shelf,”  she said. “I think that for people to feel the need to buy that much and wipe out the whole supply is a total overreaction. They need to save some for late, and for others.” Gail is still quite young and still cannot comprehend the total reasons, but she knows that some people will not benefit from people panic buying so early on. 

Gail also has a very strong opinion on going outside. She is currently staying in Providence, Rhode Island. When the Mayor of Providence closed the city parks with police enforcement she was very upset. She needs her outside time no matter what.

“I mean, I don’t really feel like you have to stay all the way inside, a lot of people are overeating, staying inside, stocking up because they don’t think that they will go to the supermarket for the next two months, and yeah, it’s a big thing, but I feel like this can’t stop people from getting fresh air,” she said. She feels very strongly about this because she is a person who gets cabin fever very quickly when staying inside for long periods of time. 

When Jorge O. Pelorza, the current mayor of Providence Rhode Island announced that all city parks would be closed starting in two hours, police enforced, the citizens of Providence had spark lit in them. Many people sent emails and text messages to the mayor asking him to reopen the parks, and many people still went to the parks for almost a week, but then the police enforcement started to kick in. The police started removing people from city parks, though no arrests on this charge have been reported yet. The citizens are starting to act a little against the wishes of the city government because they feel that since the pandemic is not widespread in RI yet, they should not be barred from the outside quite yet. 

Gail has also had a fine experience in school, though the interview was conducted on her first day, so she was still getting used to life like this at the time. She stated in the interview, “This is my first day of school, and I have been doing a lot of work, we have a math block, where we do math, and then we have reading, those are all online, and we also have free periods where we can be off the screen, which is very nice, and I can do my work on paper and send in a picture. ” 

She is also keeping in touch with her friends even though it may be tough. In the interview, she stated, “I think that soon I am going to do a few ZOOM calls to my friends in school, and we have done a few calls out to family in California, and our cousins in Vermont, and I am going to try to keep in touch with everyone.”

Gail has also had some very strong opinions on what should have happened in Wuhan, the place that the virus emerged from. In the interview, she said, “In the first place it was, [Wuhan, China,] I don’t think they were ready, and I don’t think that they took enough care, but now people are following the recommended protocols, and I think that we are doing a lot better, and hopefully, it doesn’t spread too wildly, I mean, more than it already has.”

A day in the life of a child at school in these ever-changing times seems to be the best life to live right now, but perhaps not for the kids who are in schools, as not all of them realize what exactly is going on.

Would you rather ingest bleach, as Trump suggested, or try explaining what in the world is happening right now to someone who is 7 years old?