With all the world’s differences, we share one thing

The Dome of the Rock, left, in the al-Aqsa mosque compound, and the Western Wall, right. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

If there’s one thing to take away when we analyze the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that the impact of globalization makes our world feel more interconnected than we may realize. 

Obviously, what comes to mind when we think of globalization is the network of our global economy and markets, the cornerstone of our modern world as we know it. 

Equally as significant, however, is the globalized world of human interaction among ordinary people — traveling and experiencing the world thanks to the ease and convenience of round-the-clock departures of planes, trains and boats. 

Back in January, before the coronavirus had made a notable serious landfall outside Asia, my friends and I were enjoying a few unseasonably warm days in Jerusalem before making the painful 12-hour haul from Tel Aviv to Boston, where I live. 

On the Friday night before going home, we trekked to the Western Wall, which was packed with people enjoying the last of the sun’s warmth as it slowly set over the city. People were praying, walking, chatting, taking photos or just enjoying the moment. 

At one point, I felt as though my exact location was the crossroads of the planet. I could hear numerous different languages being spoken, indicating people had traveled from different places and backgrounds. The world seemed to have come together. 

It was my last international trip before the pandemic trampled the travel industry. 

The nature of globalization in our modernized world has made it more easy than ever to get from point A to point B. When we travel, we may meet people who have some similarities to ourselves, and we may meet people who are vastly different. 

Travel is also a way to learn new things about each other and the places we come from — whether that be a country’s culture and style to its political scene and way of governance. 

The aftermath of the pandemic will certainly force the travel industry to reform for the long term, and it’s impossible to know what the future of travel will be like in the near future — let alone for the next decade. 

The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses and issues with globalized travel, and a sizable portion of the population may be fearful of traveling to avoid putting themselves in any unnecessary risk. 

But, for those who choose to travel and experience the unfamiliar walks of life in another person’s society, it’s important to note the mentality towards each other will be forever changed. 

We’ll obviously meet people who are different from us. Now, there’s one thing we are guaranteed to share.

Navigating a global health crisis is the very one thing we all have in common. So much of the world’s population has been affected by COVID-19 in some capacity, and we’ve all been living in the most unprecedented and historic of times. 

Walking around and seeing people wear their masks, I feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. We all fight a common enemy — working to curb the spread of infection and get the economy back on its feet. We want to protect friends, family and strangers.   

Around the world, people may have their differences with those who don’t look, act or talk the same as they do. Regardless of this, the way people have come together to combat the spread of COVID-19 will be remembered as a global effort. 

Hopefully, society and governments alike will take the lessons we learn from the pandemic, and push for safer and more sanitary day-to-day practices. Globalization will never die out, but some aspects will certainly be altered.

Maybe the nature of post-pandemic globalization will make us feel more interconnected than we realize. We all fought a global emergency, together. 

I often think back to that moment at the Western Wall, standing in awe at the sheer power of our interconnected world. All I could acknowledge was how spectacular it was that I was within touching distance of dozens of people who were so different from me. 

Perhaps the next time I visit the Western Wall, I won’t think about how everyone there comes from their own background — but rather that we all occupy the same earth, and shared an unparalleled experience together. One that hopefully will never happen again.

About the Author
Jake Epstein is an intern at The Times of Israel. A native of the Boston area, he recently graduated from Lehigh University with a BA in journalism and international relations.
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