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Never Forget Where You Came From

There’s always a silver lining if you look hard enough for it

Way back when I was told a motto to ”never forget where you came from” that although I’ve forgotten the source, has always stuck with me ever since. At the time, it was in reference to always being mindful of the people, and/or opportunities that contributed to you being or getting where you are. Recently however, I’ve realized there’s a much bigger issue this potent advice can be harnessed for to rally against its pain, anxiety, and fear:

COVID-19.

A year and a half ago when the first lockdown took place, the streets in my community looked like a post-apocalyptic ghost town. And quite frankly, it certainly felt that way. Nothing could have prepared anyone for the devastating loss of control over the situation; the fear of going out in public, at the time — before later verifying it was airborne — the fear of all surfaces, and the complete and utter chaos of seeing everything around us in life grind to a sudden halt. The worst kind of panic normally reserved for dystopian novels and films, made very manifest, and very real. Nobody could be blamed for not being able to focus on anything but the utter terror and confusion they were experiencing.

We didn’t know what the future held, considering the last time just over a century ago that this happened with the Spanish Flu, the death toll and suffering was horrifying on a global and human scale. Was COVID-19 about to repeat that same terrible history? What would become of our livelihoods, our emotional and mental stability, our entire sense of normal, and our life? There were far too many overwhelming and lingering questions that remained unanswered, and their toll on our very ability to function was immeasurable. We were quickly and painfully reminded of our past, lost our sense of present, and feared for our very future.

Then something happened that can only be hailed as one of the greatest medical and scientific achievements of all time. In less than a year from the first global lockdowns, we had vaccines available. The scope of this endeavour is truly mind boggling in every sense of the word. The creation of a feasible, safe, and efficient vaccine against this brutal virus was achieved in record time, based on components of the very disease ravaging the globe. Through genetic mapping of the virus itself, we were able to determine the base pair sequence responsible for the production of the microscopic key that is the spike protein.

There was a time in our past when the above alone would’ve been hailed as magic, but it was only the beginning of this incredible molecular process. Using that same genetic code we were able to replicate a messenger-RNA (mRNA) strand that could be injected into the body. It then gets read like a blueprint by cellular structures called ribosomes, which use the genetic sequence to trigger our body’s manufacturing lines to assemble the amino acids coded within the mRNA and churn out copies of the spike protein — from this deadly virus — inside our own body. Upon the proteins being released it elicits an immune system response which targets and destroys those proteins, and then commits to its biochemical memory how to do it again. A microscopic piece of the very virus that has killed millions of people around the world was ultimately used to protect us from it.

Such an achievement would never have been thought even remotely possible a year and a half ago, yet here we are with a weapon to wield against COVID-19. Through all the suffering, we have managed to remind ourselves of the human spirit and ingenuity by this pandemic miracle. We’ve shown just how resilient we actually are that so often we forget, and don’t give ourselves enough credit for. Perhaps we should take the opportunity we’ve been granted to not only get ourselves back to normal, but to create a better one. This pandemic has taught us a valuable lesson of what we’re capable of when we work together, and what we lose when we’re divided against one another. It has taught us to treasure our life and reminded us of just how far we’ve come, even in these difficult times.

It has taught us to never, ever forget where we came from.

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