[March 19, 2020] For my birthday in 2001, my dad sent me a new book by Tom Brokaw titled, The Greatest Generation. It covered many of the extraordinary stories of a generation that gave new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and honor during WW2. This generation gave so much and asked so little. Today, our young men and women, who are at the center of the Coronavirus pandemic, are now called our most irresponsible generation.
Those few now left in our WW2 generation are in their 90s and more. They served their country with valor, then came home and transformed it into something better. To this day, we Americans and the world owe them so much. They showed us what we are capable of as people. In a nutshell, they are inspiring. It is impossible to read even a few of these accounts of Brokaw’s book and not be touched by its overarching message; we who followed this generation have lived amid greatness.1
A medical doctor in Northern Italy recently told Newsweek reporter Dimi Reider, that the behavior of Americans (and you, Brits) “pretending this [pandemic] is just the flu… following through with your holiday travel plans and going to the office daily” is what “we did in Italy.”2 Partying through the evenings, eating out in large groups of friends, working out at the gym, and hugging each other unabashedly is a complacent attitude. The majority of us, he said, “told ourselves and each other, this isn’t so bad. We’re young; we’re fit, we’ll be fine even if we catch it.” The doctor now says, “… we are drowning.”
Are American young adults truly helping to potential spread the virus to others? Aren’t they helping support the economy by going out and spending their money? Are they helping, or are they hurting the efforts to control the spread of the virus? Medical professionals have given us an indication that many young adults in America are not acting as responsibly as we would like. One young lady said that now is the time “to party, party, party.” I don’t think it’s nihilism, but it is certainly not the type of responsible behavior professionals would like to see.
The message from our medical communities across the world to the young generation is the same. Regardless of whether your government is hesitating on restrictions, your behavior matters a great deal. Stay put as best you can. Do not travel. Cancel large weddings. Don’t go out on a big night’s bash. The risk you bring to others is too high. They are saying it, but our young adults should heed their warnings and act responsibly. The recommendations are boring and restrictive, but by following a few simple guidelines, we will be able to return to normalcy shortly.
We all have a basic social duty to stay put, except for exceptional reasons. When we get to this stage of a pandemic, the most important thing we can do is not spread the virus. The only thing that helps is social isolation. The message to our young is not to be our most irresponsible generation.