I live in a college town. I chose to live here in large part because of what having a college at the center of the local culture and economy affords me. The kids are the kids. They’ve always been kids—entitled, invincible, narcissistic, reckless, and also impassioned, creative, eager, earnest, energetic and hopeful. Kind of exactly like we were when we were their age.
I have a hard time getting more than annoyed at the kids. It’s true that they’re being careless and irresponsible in the face of Covid-19. They’re not behaving like the anxious, sober-minded, NYT reading middle-aged people freaking out about their (possibly?) impending, and by some late-night conjectures, apocalyptic arrival to town. And I suspect no degree of well-intentioned moral panic will force them to do so (in fact, It may do the opposite).
The kids are not the enemy. They’re just a much easier target than the politicians and business owners that enable, empower and exploit their recklessness in order to protect their bottom line, preserve their bullshit traditions, maintain power and profit off a bunch of teenagers (or just past). Kids you can teach. It’s literally why they come here. They will get older and (at least many of them)through age, loss, and the wisdom that comes with it, understand their mortality and literally start to feel all their myriad and undeniable vulnerabilities as the protective trappings of youth fail and fade. They’ll learn how dependent they’ve been on others and how dependent others have been on them. Maybe they’ll have enough imagination and empathy to get there sooner rather than later. Maybe it won’t take watching someone they love suffer and die. After all, things only get harder from here on out. Maybe they’ll find hope and joy and promise in this unrelentingly fucked up time and be able to enjoy the simple business of being young and new in the world without causing a bunch of people to die. You know, like we all did.
I can’t imagine being young now, in this world, at this moment.
But the actual bad guys? The ones that are fine sacrificing kids and staff and the families of kids and staff? Those guys are not the kids. And those guys have no interest in hope or joy or learning or the future or the kids or the people that will die. They only care about their bottom line at any cost. Don’t get distracted by the parties and the pearl clutching. Remember who got us here. Remember who is doing everything they can to keep us here. Remember who is squandering every opportunity—and every day is a new opportunity—to keep people alive.Those guys are the enemy. Because those guys will never learn. They refuse to.
Picture today is a favorite spot on campus, a few weeks ago.
As of this writing, 7,624,536 people have recovered from Covid.