What COVID-19 is Teaching Us – Hassnaa Mohammed

Being challenged with a pandemic, we are currently going through a very difficult time as a global community. However, I see the silver lining. It seems like, for a long period of time, people have been separated by religious, racial, and ethnic differences. Wars have been relentless and genocides unstoppable. Debates are taking over dialogues and peace is just a value.

For the past year, serving as an interfaith fellow, I’ve come to see great potential for the role of interfaith work during global crises. Many of us are absorbed in our own communities, our own comfort zones, though a few are willing to lean in and learn about the shared values of humanity. This year, I was privileged to interact with other young students who took it upon themselves to lean in and learn about others. We discussed issues that pertain to all of us, as people in their early to mid 20s who are eager to make a difference in this world. We realized that it takes all of us to move forward as a global community. 

From discussing our religious or non-religious upbringings, to our daily practices, or global issues we cared about, we always found an overlap of values. Though these common experiences always exist, people hardly have the space or opportunity to share them with each other. This is why the interfaith fellowship experience is invaluable to promoting collaboration between people of different faith groups.

Today, we stand at a cliff as global citizens. It took a pandemic that impacted the entire globe from the Far East to the Far West to remind us of our shared humanity. Whether it is our basic needs for food and social connection, or fear to lose any of our family members, we all experience these at some level. We are all vulnerable to feeling desperate when we are threatened. And we can now relate to experiences that we never thought would affect us, like the desperation of refugees or the isolation of incarcerated. We are all in this together, regardless of our race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. 

We can’t overcome this crisis unless we collectively collaborate to stop it. Though many humans still act out of selfishness, there are many more who realize the communal impact of this pandemic and work on it selflessly. I see this in the interfaith fellows I interacted with this year. Therefore, I am hopeful that this crisis will open our eyes to other issues that the world needs us to collectively stand for, regardless of our backgrounds.