This is rather important.
I’ve been pretty disquieted about some of the rhetoric that’s been going around the place along with Covid-19. Yes, we know that the health impacts are disproportionately severe for people over sixty. Yes, we know that in many Anglosphere countries, there is an occasionally pretty understandable annoyance on the part of younger people against the regrettably not-always-that-imaginary stereotype of Der Boomer.
And yes, there is an ongoing politico-economic reshaping that has already begun, both of the world that the generation of our parents is bequeathing to us – and, in some areas, being actively pushed back against by some persons including those of a similar age range to them [c.f current debates in the US Democratic Primary around public healthcare – wherein, as somebody put it, the preponderance of boomer-aged voters *against* public reform, versus the preponderance of millennial aged voters *for* such reform, may look like the latter desperately endeavouring to hold back the former from jumping headlong over a cliff of its own ultimate devising through its previous several decades of political choices … insofar as you actually have “choice” in a system as hidebound by health-insurance money as the US Political one].
But frankly, eagerly cheering on, or being amusedly indifferent to the plight of anybody retirement-aged and up during these present circumstances is reprehensible.
Being over a certain age doesn’t automatically make you a villain outside of the circumstances of Logan’s Run. Being under a certain age, and/or finding yourself lucky and well-placed enough to avoid the virus’s ravages … does not axiomatically render one a saint, either. [although being a saint, may for obvious reasons, help in such circumstances as we currently find ourselves embroiled in]
It must be scary as hell being an older person in Italy right now – a fear that can only escalate as you move up the age-brackets, past the “Boomer” generation and into the Greatest. Even if you’ve got some sort of semi-justified ill-feeling toward your parents’ generation in abstract (if not necessarily, or perhaps necessarily, your specific parents themselves) … have a thought for Grandma.
I’m a little biased about this, perhaps – my parents are older than many others of my generation, and seemingly quite different to the stereotypes that often seem to accrue for persons across the Anglosphere of their age. I also spent the formative years of my adulthood working with quite a number of older citizens, who were militantly in favour of the kind of economically just policies that are quite popular with many young voters today – not through a hopeful idealism, so much as having the actual, tangible recollection of them being in force some decades before.
… although the instances I ran into of older New Zealanders opposed to animal testing of synthetic cannabinoids and other party drugs, and instead volunteering themselves for it, was … a little unexpected, to say the least.
These days, in my theological line of life, many of the people I engage with are also older. In no small part because they’re the ones who can *remember* old ways, who have the wisdom of grandparents and are so eager to see it passed on – even if it has to skip their own children’s generation through lack of interest, to be passed on more directly to their grandkids.
To be sure, I *do* think that an array of the stopping and tacking stock of our politico-economic situation as a result of what’s going on with the Corona virus, is a necessary thing, and something that’s been quite a long while coming. I have reasonable hope that the world we wind up with as a result of some of this, some three to five years down the track (after which, if history has proven to be a guide, we’ll probably have started forgetting the lessons again, in earnest) shall be a more resilient and rational(ized) one in some ways, also, as a result. Paying more attention to looking after people and less to just-in-time buckled bottom lines and empty, pointless, performative “work”; for a start.
But I don’t think that means we start celebrating a human cost to changing direction like this. I think it means, more than anything, that we are to be motivated to make damn sure that obvious problems with obvious solutions are *sorted* so that unnecessary deaths, weeks of worry, and lifetimes of lingering impairment *don’t take place* in the first place.
So that the grief of a preventable and systemically avoidable spate of familial bereavements, as this virus and the milieu which has supported and enabled its promulgation and spread … is spared as far as possible not only to us – but also to the generations that come after us, and which will, most certainly and without a doubt, be thinking of us “millennials” or “zoomers” or whatever it is that we are these days, in similar terms to how many seem to think of “Boomers” and the Greatest Generation today.
Now is not, for obvious reasons, the time to hug your parents, your grandparents, physically closer for fear of losing them prematurely.
Yet metaphorically, I think that’s *exactly* what is required – closer mental and emotional engagement, mutual support .. from a physical distance .. and ensuring that contra to the memery flying around the place at the moment, that they are not only not forgotten, but not painfully, shamefully derided into the bargain as well.
“As you are, we once were. As we are, you shall be”, indeed.
Perhaps, instead of the “Ok, Boomer” that has become such popular (and occasionally quite apt) parlance these days, “Are you OK [boomer]?” might be the better ethos du jour.