2020 has been a year full of trials and
tribulations. At one point or another, we’ve all felt moments of hopelessness
and fear but also of hope and happiness.
However, all these feelings have been
fleeting. Soon, in January, we’ll all be looking at the next chapters of our
lives. These emotions that we’re feeling today will have faded by then, but one
thing would remain with us: the lessons we’ve learned during the (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to Jeffrey Cohen, the dean of Humanities
at the College of Liberal Arts and Science at Arizona State University, the
world has learned the importance of the humanities during this trying year.
There’s no doubt that we’ve seen many
changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s safe to say that STEM (science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics) won’t be enough to make sense of this
We need something more, which is language, philosophy, religion,
literature, film, history, and media to fully comprehend where humanity stands
and what the future could look like.
Here’s what 2020 has taught us about the importance
of the humanities.
New Technologies Can’t Survive Without Humanities
2020 has made us more dependent on
technology. In order to main social distancing and all necessary SOPs to stay
safe from coronavirus, all face-to-face meetings are now done virtually. There
have been many innovations, and more are expected to follow.
To make sure that these innovations are
successful, it’s highly important to understand human psychology, and for that
you need humanities. Experts in the subject help people in STEM understand how
the human mind works, what will appeal to them, what will they easily accept
and integrate into their lives, and so on.
If technologies are made without any
consideration to the human beings it is being made for, they have greater
chances of failure.
It Helps Us Understand Context
One of the most important lessons 2020 taught us about humanities is that it helps us understand the context. You must
have seen a lot of statistics during the entire year. Whenever you turn on your
television, you’re bombarded with numbers about COVID-19 cases, deaths,
survival rate, and what not. But does it have any kind of impact on you? Think
in terms of emotions and feelings.
When such negative news fails to invoke
feelings of grief in us, it is called desensitization; humanities steps in to give
this data a human angle. It teaches people to cover stories of the real people
and not just make them a data point. Humanities give context to the numbers
which makes them more impactful.
For example, when you hear someone’s story
of contracting the coronavirus and how they and their family struggled, you
find that more effective. It helps you stay motivated to distance yourself from
others, stay indoors and take all precautions. You won’t necessarily have the
same reaction if you just keep listening to the cases count.
It Teaches Empathy
Humanities teach us to learn and tolerate
other people’s opinions and perspectives. It encourages us to learn more about
the struggles people face and how they live, which makes us more empathic to
them and we start looking for a way to help others out.
Sadly, it’s a rare quality to be found
these days. Barack Obama—in one of his addresses to the graduating class of
2016 at the North-western University— said that because humanities have been
excluded as a subject from many schools, we face an empathy deficit in the
It Gives Insight into the World
Humanities ingrains in its students the
ability to think from many different angles. It also nurtures their creative
sides and encourages them to explore, question, reason, and think critically
about everything in the world. The best way we can make sense of the pandemic
world that we live in is by employing all of these techniques.
Moreover, humanities teach us to learn from
the people who’ve lived before us. This isn’t the first pandemic the world has
ever seen; many have come before it, such as the plague. By studying what
happened at that point in time, we can understand the current situation better.
It Helps us Become Informed Citizens
One of the greatest services that
humanities does is to create informed citizens. We’ve seen how ignorance can
create chaos. When the pandemic first arrived, many people refused to wear
masks, they believed that it was all a hoax, they weren’t ready to stay indoors
or follow the recommended SOPs, and because of that, we’ve all suffered.
Humanities give people a profound
understanding of human experiences, it gets them thinking about ethical
questions and enables them to make informed decisions.
It Fosters Social Justice and Equality
Our world is heavily divided, in race,
gender, class, caste, and even more categories. Rather than celebrating
diversity, we often make it an excuse to create rifts in our society.
Humanities foster a sense of social justice and equality in its students. It
teaches them to embrace diversity and tolerate other people’s opinions. This is
extremely important in the current situation, as discrimination and prejudice
can make it very difficult for certain communities to survive.
Brings Clarity to the Future
We’re all in a state of confusion, thanks
to these unpredictable times. It can be pretty difficult to comprehend what the
future might look like. The only way you can make sense of the situation is by
studying history and learn how people at that time adapted to changes that the
pandemic brought to their world.
These were some of the lessons 2020 has
taught us about the importance of the humanities. If you’re someone who’s
always curious and would love to explore new avenues in life, you should
consider learning subjects of humanities. It’ll constitute an excellent
foundation for a future career, no matter what subject you choose to study
later in life.
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