No, We Can’t Wait Anymore

We are now well into the third month of coronavirus lockdowns. Weeks have gone by as students fear for their futures and well-being. We have so much hanging on the line due to disruptions caused by this virus. The virus itself,  for so many facing job losses or missing loved ones or just wishing to enjoy the blessings of liberty, is less worrisome than the lasting repercussions of these lockdowns. 

Here are some things you need to understand about the generation of Americans coming of age. 

Most of us are incredibly fed up. While everyone is suffering, we are the ones risking our whole futures for this. People tell us to stay positive and to find the beauty in little things. We have tried our best to make the best out of this but, in truth, every day we watch our futures get further and further away from us. 

Please understand the pain that young people are going through. Summer is the only time for most of us to find stable employment and save for the school year. Nearly all of us have lost our jobs or have lost internships that were supposed to help us advance our future careers. We have seen it all slip away so fast and now we fear what will happen to us in the fall.

If schools do not open in the fall, it would be one of the biggest sacrifices asked of America’s youth in the history of this country. Education is vital to America’s future and we have the same rights to it as older adults across America once did. Why would we just throw all of this away for the sake of an uncertain, and probably false, sense of safety? 

If you really think the majority of students are learning well at home right now, then you are lying to yourself

I fear for myself and my fellow students because of America’s apparent lack of interest in preserving its future. We have put all our faith in one academic 79-year-old doctor who is not in touch with any of the realities beyond his narrow field and certainly cannot be expected to have familiarity with the concerns of today’s youth. 

Please, America, think of the future. Think of the time young people cannot get back if we continue to keep them latched up inside.

Look around. All of the decisions about what is happening in America are being decided by significantly older adults—not coincidentally the ones who have the most to fear from the virus. 

Perhaps they do not see the damage that silently is being done to the youth for the sake of keeping older Americans healthy? We cannot wait for this virus to go away to get back to school. We do not have forever. I came across a quote the other day that said, “Time passes quickly. Make sure you do all those things you really want for your life while you still can. Each day, do a little something to move closer to your dreams.” 

Each day that passes with our lives put on hold is one more day that our dreams and America’s future get pushed back. 

Think back to when you were in your early 20s. Think back to the things with which you were probably concerned at that age. No one asked you to shut down your lives and stop living. Even young people who sacrificed their dreams to fight in wars at least were doing something. They had some autonomy. They were living

The truth that so many older adults in America do not understand and what keeps us awake every night is that we are not living. We are replaying the last goodbyes we had with friends before our relationships were put into suspended animation. We are recalling frenzied and panicked cleaning out of once cozy dorm rooms, as we tossed most things because we had no time to sort them out and nowhere to put them. We packed up our dreams and lives into trash bags, not knowing when or if life would ever feel normal again. Most of us are home, but not at home. 

I have friends who tell me they do not see what our purpose is in life if we are going to live day to day canceling things and, truly, they are right. To say other generations knew and feared things such as poverty and war is true. But so do we. We are not fearing the next few months of vegging out and watching Netflix, but rather what doing nothing indefinitely will mean for us and our country. We know enough history to know that the great poverty that is coming will not secure for us a lasting peace. We fear the virus, too. But this fear should not prevent us from living our lives and saving our country. 

So do not tell us we don’t understand. We are not heartless. We just want our lives back and our country back. We want to get our education and have our right to pursue happiness restored.

Please, America, think of the future. Think of the time young people cannot get back if we continue to keep them latched up inside.

About Libby Justine

Libby Justine is a college student in the Midwest.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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