3 Painful ‘Generation COVID’ Truths to Make You Hopeful
The people who lived through this will have a perspective that’s precious to modern American history and will be told for generations. — Brandon Barnes (age 18)
As I open the book, raw emotion pours from its pages. Fear, grief, disappointment, confusion, anxiety, anticipation and faith. It’s a generational perspective of our world captured in time. Words offer hope; these are the voices of our future.
In Perseverance in a Strange Land, students discuss the pandemic, systemic racism, and the murder of George Floyd. Their honest accounts allow us a brief insight into the minds of our future leaders.
Youths’ voices often go unheard. Adults argue over how turbulent times will affect our young people. All eyes are on the COVID generation. What will become of them? Well, why don’t we ask them?
In Dr Stephen Bond’s book, we hear the voices loud and clear. Students’ tell their stories. They show resilience in the face of adversity. Despite painful experiences, these young people still envision a brighter future. That gives me hope!
This book is overflowing with wise words from Dr Bond’s students. The following three quotes raise some important issues. They point towards failing social systems, yet they instil hope for humanity.
Less Competition, More Collaboration
“I hope doctors work together to find a cure instead of working alone, trying to compete on who finds a cure first.” — Isaiah Parker (age 17).
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, young people sacrificed school, socials, proms and graduations to keep other family members safe. Responsibility weighed heavily on their shoulders. Isaiah Parker recognised the need for collaboration among healthcare professionals rather than competition.
Collaboration is a powerful business concept. Competing businesses share skills and knowledge to best serve the client. Unfortunately, society isn’t as forward-thinking. We value competition. Winning becomes the focus, and we lose sight of the cause.
Young people have insight; they understand the value of collaboration. The current pandemic has only reinforced its importance. Isaiah’s words give me hope. Maybe one day, future leaders will unite and join hands for the greater good of humanity.
There Is Only One Race
“When people understand that we’re all one race, the human race, people will be able to judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts here with us. If we don’t make the change, who will.” — Adrian Land (age 16).
Throughout history, people have exploited superficial differences to gain higher ground; feelings of superiority. Skin colour, nationality, culture, religion, gender, sexuality. Rather than embracing the richness and diversity of humanity, many abused it to gain power.
In Perseverance in a Strange Land, young people talk of how they fear for their lives. They’re perceived as a threat based on their skin colour. Racism is at the root of societal structures. Lavalley and Johnson (2020) state, “It is ingrained in everyday thinking and doing of people living in the US.”
Being anti racism isn’t enough when structures that govern us stand upon racist ideals. We must rebuild corrupt systems from the ground up. As Adrian says, “Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts here with us.” There is only one race; I am hopeful for a society that embraces diversity within it. A society where no-one fears for their life because of their skin colour.
Learn From History and Break Generational Cycles
“The system in which we live is not new. It dates back to slavery times when people of colour were stripped from their families and homes to work for a plantation owner. They were taken away to work for someone who bled the same colour as them, just of different skin colour. Our system now is so similar to then! It is time to strip ourselves of our own blindness because as the philosopher George Santayana so famously said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’” — Jashaun Taft (age 17).
US police officers kill one in a thousand Black men. We hear of the police killing unarmed Black men and women in the media. Jashaun reminds us that police brutality towards African Americans is not new. It dates back to times of slavery. If we’re to break these generational cycles, we must first open our eyes to the past.
Early US police forces were slave patrols. Groups of armed men employed to prevent enslaved people from taking back their freedoms. Throughout history, police forces continued to deprive Black people of their human rights. Today’s US police force stands on 300-year-old racist foundations. The system still bears a resemblance to its racist origins.
Not every police officer is racist, but a police force rooted in racism has no place in our society. History teaches us many lessons. It points to our failings and allows us to create a better future. We can’t afford to ignore it. Jashaun makes me hopeful that we can break free from the ghosts of our past.
This book left its imprint on me. I hope the words of these young people make an imprint on the minds of many around the world. What resonated most with you?
I reached out to Dr Bond after reading the book; pride in his students was clear above all else. They show resilience, strength and wisdom through unprecedented times. From our history, they take their lessons. Broken constructs will fail, but I have confidence that together we can rebuild the foundations for a better future.
Technology advances rapidly, but our society remains stuck in the past. I hope future leaders will collaborate rather than compete. That the human race truly embraces its richness and diversity. I hope for a future where societies stand proud upon new foundations of equality. Most of all, I’m hopeful for a world where every person can go outside without fearing for their life.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts here with us.” — Adrian Land (age 16).
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