Time Capsule Letter

Dear Reader of the Future: I haven't the slightest idea about what world you live in as you read these words. I don't know if you know the name of the device I typed this letter on (it's a computer). I don't even know if you'd know what to do with a keyboard. What I do know, though, is that if your world is any different than mine, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic most likely had a lot to do with it. It's a strange feeling to live in a time in which the failings of the global commercial society are so glaringly obvious. In my short seventeen years on this planet, I've learned that the American love language is crisp and green (and I'm not talking about summer leaves). Everything, even our very reality, is augmented to ensure the maximum - maximum emotion, maximum entertainment, maximum workload - all so a glorious few can reap the maximum profit. But the virus has brought this exploitative orgy to a grinding halt, or at least exposed how under-stimulated it leaves the vast majority. Of course, people are still trying to keep the gears turning. Despite the fact that there are almost 3.53 million confirmed cases in the US as of today (compared to almost 14 million worldwide), many are holding tight to the dirt-faced American pastime of hard work. This is understandable.  In this country, those who don't work don't eat (unless someone in their family worked a long time ago and made enough for their descendants to eat forever). We've been inundated in this ideology since birth. But the fact remains that, more often than not, it doesn't pay off. Many people work all their lives and still never make enough to enjoy life. Now that those same people are either unemployed or essential workers who risk their lives (but aren't important enough to receive livable wages), I feel that this country - this world - is on the precipice of an awakening, the likes of which I'm not sure will end much better than that of the heroine in Kate Chopin's famed novella. The fact of the matter is this: our economic system has not been constructed to ensure the wellness of the whole population. The implications of coronavirus have made this more evident. Hundreds of homeless sleep on the streets instead of in empty houses, which increases the risk of transmission. Health care is so expensive that many people are unable to even get tested, let alone receive treatment. And the presidential election primaries chug along even in areas without a vote-by-mail option, exacerbating the already egregious issue of voter suppression. In the sullen city of Augusta and the even quieter suburb of Evans, students like myself are tasked with completing coursework online, which carries difficulties for working parents of young children. Of course I am not expecting a ruddy-faced Lenin to swoop in and rally the proletariat at the doors of the White House, but this has to be a wake-up call that our way of life is unsustainable for the masses. I hope that this will prompt a flurry of revolutionary fervor in people from all walks of life to seriously examine their circumstances and try to take action.  I know that I am in a relatively privileged situation right now. I wake anytime before noon and pad around the house all day in a cotton-candy pink robe and fuzzy socks, completing online assignments in between episodes of whatever's good on Netflix (Mad Men now, Kim's Convenience a few days ago, Community before that). My most dire ailment is loneliness. Of course I fear for my mother, who is a doctor and on the wrong side of sixty. She comes home every day, peels her mask off, and speaks to me from across the room for the silent fear that she might have brought the virus home with her. But others are not so fortunate. Many have lost friends, family, income, and homes. There are scientific rumors now that this is only the first round in half a decade's worth of “quarantine” periods until doctors find a cure. This is only slightly less alarming than the prediction that COVID-19 marks a coming trend of pandemics that, due to environmental change and population growth, will alarm more people than only those in the global south (Ebola, which has taken thousands of lives in Africa, was a joke to pink-skinned kids in my fifth grade class, although I suppose everything was). Reader, I'm sure you know by now if these predictions came true. I pray that they don't. I hope that this account has been enlightening. I hope that you aren't reading this and shaking your head at my naivety. I hope that some semblance of the world I live in still exists, if only the language I wrote this letter in. What a trivial death my generation would have if no one could read the words on our gravestone. Sincerely, Elizabeth Fulton

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