Los Angeles Collegian Online

What We Must Do When Freedom Comes

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By Paulette Meza 

What will we do with newfound information?

Time has lost all meaning. If you’re reading this, it means you followed protocol and reached freedom, finally!  

A moment of silence for all those who perished because of the incompetence of one president, the inefficiency of an entire government, and the greed of corporations. But, at least, we are here together.  

We endured weeks of self-isolation in the name of our loved ones and neighbors. We learned community comes before anything else. That good people can be found in the face of crisis, people who would risk their own lives to save others.  

We learned that we are all interconnected with the planet and each other.  

We learned that without kindness and empathy, this could have been so much worse. We also learned that some of our lowest paid workers are essential to our survival.  

Perhaps now, we can discuss an actual living wage. We learned that corporations cannot run America. In fact, they need our tax dollars to bail them out — many times over.  

They will also continue to abuse and exploit their workers, as long as there is money to be made. We learned that we can cancel rent and mortgage payments and essential utilities, including Internet access. Who knew? 

Paid leave is necessary and accessible for any job. Sick hours can be cashed in whenever the employee chooses — without a doctor’s note. We learned that many industries are precariously built and collapsed at the beginning of the quarantine — namely, the restaurant industry. 

We learned schools can provide free computers and internet providers can provide free internet access to students. Ebooks can be accessed freely, instead of paying $100-plus, for one textbook.  

In fact, the list of what we have learned during this quarantine can continue on and on, but the important thing now, is to discuss what we will do with this information. 

Above all, we cannot let ourselves fall back into life before the quarantine. We cannot go back and we should not want to. 

Our best days, individually and as a nation, are not in the past, they are ahead of us. Armed with this new knowledge, gathered over hours upon hours of scrolling and #SaferAtHome, we can forge a better society. One that takes into account our most vulnerable citizens. We have been given a do-over, at an impossibly high cost and body count. Let’s make it worth something more.

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