Letter from the Editor: This isn’t goodbye

By Rana Schenke, Editor-in-Chief

This is not a farewell letter.

It’s a Daily Egyptian tradition for an outgoing editor-in-chief to write a farewell letter at the end of the semester.

I’ve been trying to think for the last couple of weeks what I should write in mine. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that isn’t what we need right now.

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Our country is facing a time of fear and uncertainty. COVID-19 has changed everything; we are all in new situations we weren’t prepared for, and it’s not easy.

Rana Schenke
My latest home workspace, featuring my dog, Belle.

Students are trying to complete classwork with added responsibilities or without access to reliable internet, parents are trying to deal with having children home all day while also trying to work from home, and some people have been furloughed or lost jobs without hope of finding a new way to make income. 

We’ve been placed under an incredible amount of stress, and everyone is scared and hurting. 

That’s OK. 

It’s OK to be angry, it’s OK to feel scared and uncertain during this time. It’s OK to be upset over what you’re missing out on, be it lost income or lost experiences. 

Many of us are taught the importance of certain things over others. Someone else’s job is more important than your education; someone else’s lost income is a bigger deal than you not being able to get a summer internship. 

There are plenty of people in the world who will tell you these things in an attempt to invalidate your experiences and how you feel. They will tell you, through words or actions, that someone else’s experiences are more important than yours. And the more they repeat it, the easier it is to believe it. 

The truth is that we are all hurting. We are all struggling, we are all scared, we are all dealing with something new and uncertain. And often when we are scared or hurting, we lash out at others in an attempt to protect ourselves.

This can manifest itself in different ways, from throwing blame to intentional defiance of health guidelines to angry rants or comments on social media. 

It’s OK to be scared and angry, but it’s not OK to lash out or blame other people. There is no one person or group responsible for the situation, and spreading hate or even the virus to others because you are upset will not help anyone, and especially not you. 

It will be significantly harder to get through this crisis if we are divided. It’s absolutely vital at this time that we work together and support each other, even when we ourselves need support. It will be difficult, but the only way we will be able to get through this crisis and return to a normal society is through supporting one another, not alienating each other.

Do I believe we can return to normal after this pandemic ends? Yes. It may not be quite the same normal as before, but I believe we can make it through this crisis to the other side. 

We as a community, a state and a nation can persevere through this struggle and emerge stronger for it if we work together. We need to set aside our differences and support each other. 

There are many different ways to help and support others during this time; just look to Jeremy Packer, Dav Glass and Tiffany Delaney, southern Illinoisans who have been featured by the DE for working to help the community.

Countless other people in southern Illinois are also working hard to help others during this time, including healthcare workers, retail workers and education professionals. 

To everyone who is putting their own safety at risk to help others and to the people who are working to keep our essential workers safe, I want to say thank you and let you know that you are appreciated and valued. 

With something like COVID-19 happening, normal things like writing a traditional farewell letter at the end of the semester can seem futile or ill-timed.

No one who has had to say goodbye to family and friends without knowing when they will see them again wants to read a farewell letter. No one who has had their life uprooted by this virus wants to read about more change.

I don’t want to put out another goodbye letter, nor do I want to put out something that’s just about me. This isn’t the time for that.

Instead, I’d like you to take what I’ve written as a message of hope and beginnings as opposed to goodbyes and endings. 

A lot of things are changing, ending or closing. I hope we can all use this as an opportunity to move together, look forward and start a new chapter together.

Editor-in-Chief Rana Schenke can be reached at [email protected]

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