COVID-19 and Our Collective Compassion

by Jenin Mannaa



Digital Art By Sophie Liu: 
Art serves as a creative outlet as well as a means of advocacy.
 Sophie Liu is a talented 17-year-old artist from Dunlap High School who 
created this art piece to portray the importance of wearing a mask.

It’s undeniable that 2020 has been eventful in the worst way possible. With Australia’s wildfires, followed by the possibility of a World War III, and the introduction of COVID-19, it feels like the universe is playing a joke on us with a deadly virus as the punchline.

With 6 months of this year completed, it may be easier to cast 2020 aside as a faulty year. It’s like having a malfunctioning iPhone subject to water damage—putting your iPhone in rice for 24 hours is sure to fix the damage. As a community, I’m sure dunking 2020 into a large enough bowl of rice may do the trick! But what if I told you that I have a solution to our community’s issues that does not involve a single grain of rice?

As a community, we need compassion. That seems like such a general proposition, but with every individual’s contribution, achieving compassion within our community is simple. How can we show compassion to people when we are expected to maintain a 6-foot distance from them during a pandemic? The irony regarding COVID-19 lies within the fact that we’re saving other people by maintaining a distance from them. With the urgency to return to normalcy, it’s easy to abandon the will to keep away from friends and family. However, understanding how COVID-19 is affecting our community makes the 6-foot distance easily achievable.

The CDC calculates that Illinois ranks in the top 6 highest number of COVID-19 cases within the United States. As of the time this article was written, Peoria is 1 of 4 counties out of a total of 102 counties that are now at a warning level by the state Department of Public Health. Peoria is teeming with COVID-19, but the majority of our community are not changing their actions. They are refusing to acknowledge the severity of COVID-19 because it may not be personally affecting them at the moment. This behavior shows a lack of compassion.

That being said, a little compassion goes a long way, and these numbers are reversible. The director of the CDC proclaims that coronavirus cases would be significantly decreased in weeks if everyone wore masks and socially distanced. After ruling our community for 6 months, COVID-19 would be dethroned with a few compromises in our daily life that would ultimately stem from a desire to be compassionate. There are very few positive highlights within the year 2020 thus far.

But, there are still 3 months of this year left—and so much we can do within that stretch of time. Coronavirus might leave our community as quickly as it came! All we have to do is recognize our vulnerability to this virus, socially distance, and wear our masks for the sake of ourselves and others, and trust that the CDC is instilling guidelines for our benefit. It may be easy to believe you are no more than a grain of rice amidst our community, but every individual that contributes their share is sure to make a large impact.

About Jenin Mannaa

Jenin Mannaa is a rising senior at Dunlap High School. Her stellar academic performance has granted her entrance to the National Honors Society at her school. Jenin has expressed her love for advocacy through her involvement on the Dunlap Speech Team as Junior and Senior Captain. Within speech, her primary goal has been expressing her identity as a Muslim-American woman. Jenin attended IHSA State for Oratorical Declamation her junior year of high school. Within her speech team, she was also awarded Sophomore and Junior MVP. Jenin’s passion for the arts is evident through her involvement in Stage 323, where she was inducted in the International Thespian Society. She has also been involved in Concert Choir, Women’s Chorale, and Show Choir throughout her high school career. Moreover, her devotion to garnering support for ethnic minorities motivated Jenin to create Dunlap’s UNICEF Club, which educates students about the tribulations of underprivileged individuals in impoverished countries. Within UNICEF, she leads fundraisers, and within the first few months of the club she raised approximately $500. During her summers, Jenin has spent over 200 hours volunteering at the Unity-Point Methodist Hospital within the daycare or shadowing various doctors within Peoria.