“It’s like the whole world has changed permanently in the span of two months.”
Of all the comments in all the hurried conversations I’ve had in the frenzied week since I returned home to Miami amidst the current pandemic, that one still rings in my ears. “The whole world has changed permanently.” She was right. As a pandemic begins to ravage our country, I don’t need to persuade you of the gravity of this situation. I don’t need to recite the scary statistics. I know you already know that comment is true — we are headed into a time of chaos, and things will not be the same afterward.
But there’s one thing which I worry you don’t know yet — you are going to be the one to save us.
Don’t look behind you as though I’m talking to someone else. I mean you. I’m serious. In that same conversation with a woman who I’ve known since before I knew anything, she asked, “Who is going to save us?” he answer is each and every member of our generation, each 18-22ish reader of this college paper. Every person has their own agent of faith during this crisis — their God, their government, their doctor. But my faith — what keeps me going through each twenty second hand wash and each conversation separated by six feet — is in my generation. My prayer, despite my Catholic mother’s admonishments, is not a Hail Mary. It’s this column to the one force I believe can deliver us from this terror: Gen Z.
We are the generation that can save us.
We are the generation with the greatest resistance to this virus — the healthiest, the most able bodied. We are the generation that will care for those elder generations who are the most vulnerable. We will keep our distance from one another but stay close in our resolve to nurse the sick, to assume greater responsibility to protect those at risk, to do that which needs to be done.
We are the generation that knows how to stay close from afar. We are the generation that will find unbelievably crafty ways to stay connected virtually to one another though we cannot see each other in person. We are the generation that will lead the way as our family’s businesses, jobs, entire lives move online — using our knowledge, our ingenuity to make this new digital social paradigm one which retains our basic humanity.
We are the generation that will keep hope burning amidst the fiercest, most frigid headwinds of time. We are the generation most burdened of all generations; from a coronavirus to a climate crisis to an economic calamity to mass shooting after mass shooting. Yet, through it all, we have not given up. We have fought back. We have not lost our faith in a better future, one earned by the hope and work of our peers. We grew up in dark times, and as they grow darker, we are the generation that will carry the torch forward for all because we know how to do so.
To each generation there is entrusted a series of challenges. Our’s surpass all others. We will rise to meet every single one of them — including this one. We will be guided by our humanity in inhuman times. We will find new ways to show our love for one another amidst the constraints placed upon us. We will lead with compassion, with courage, with a solemn understanding of the profound responsibility enumerated unto us by time. This crisis will demand countless small, individual sacrifices. It will require leadership within each and every one of us: the kind that goes unnoticed and unthanked — to stay home despite the temptation to go out or to leave that third can of beans on the shelf at the supermarket for the person behind you. To get through this, we must work together irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, color, creed, class or any other differences we may hold. We are all in this together, but our generation has a special role to play because of how much good we can do if together we rise to this challenge.
As we face crisis, let us as a generation link arm in arm from a distance and lead the way through this darkness.
“Who is going to save us?”
It will be you. It will be me. It will be all of us together.
Andrew Lorenzen is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. When We’re Sixty Four runs every other Tuesday this semester.