Rhubarb 2020

ST EDWARD’S rh u b a r b

Runner up

Lockdown: A NewWorld by JOSHUAWILMOT (Cowell’s, Fifth Form)

The New Normal by FLORENCE CLIFFORD (Jubilee, Upper Sixth)

A time of change has swept the world, flooding the very air we breathe, the things we see, the people we are. A once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, for everyone, naturally forced. Change of this calibre is uncertain. Lives have been unjustly grasped from the universal flood; lives have been left to suffer – insufferably. Lives have been restricted from the beloved, isolated on a deserted island, separated to test the effects of global solitary confinement. We have been forced to accept that ‘different’ is ‘normal’. But is different only bad? Or is it the reason for a long-awaited arrival? A revival of the long-forgotten past of life before, a renewed perception of what we want, a repaired idea of what happiness looks like. It looks like something that lasts. It looks like supporting the underdogs, the struggling local barber, the fighting and overlooked nurse, the vulnerable neighbour. It looks like the privilege of slowing down and reflecting on what really matters in life and acknowledging those who can’t. It is about reconnecting with the frayed relationships and strayed memories and realising who really matters to you, about realising our interconnectivity and rising up against racial injustice, against the common challenges. It is about finding ways to cope and adapt for the better, identifying exercise as a friend not foe, revelling in nature’s beauty. It’s about a healing world, Indians seeing Himalayas, clear Venetian rivers, bears commandeering Yosemite roads. Lockdown forked the path ahead, changing our future – for the better.

I’ve spent the past three months, since the pandemic forced us out of school, at home in Hong Kong, in a very different landscape. Much of Hong Kong was closed in the early days of the effort to suppress the coronavirus, but life didn’t grind to a halt the way it seemed to elsewhere: the scars of SARS in the early 2000s cut deep and the city remembered it all too well to take this new pandemic lightly. There is a sense that, on the surface, ‘normal’ still applies to much of life here - as spring ran into summer people flocked to beaches and parks, and everything from clubs to gyms reopened – which in itself is reassuring; despite all the doomsday prophesying it’s nice to know the world isn’t actually crumbling to pieces. But the raucous nightlife and casual handshaking hide the cracks that are obviously there. There’s a lot of discussion about going back to ‘normal’, but there’s been a shift in the plates beneath us – jobs and livelihoods are being destroyed, people are dying, and many of us are on shaky ground. This pandemic has thrown into sharp relief what has been veiled for a long time: the system is broken and ‘normal’ isn’t going to cut it anymore. When we come out at the end of this – whenever it ends – we need to bridge the gap between that safety net of what we know, and a future that won’t fall apart around us.



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