Everybody’s lifestyles have suffered because of the COVID pandemic, but clearly, the biggest victims are the young people. This is a tribute to them.
I served as a young conscript in the army 40 years ago, under the most severe discipline (military lockdown, sometimes wearing a mask – a gas mask). I knew from the outset that those eighteen months of my youth would basically be lost. Indeed, they were, sadly.
But at least I could count the days. Today, young people feel that the last ten months have made life insufferable and that there is no end in sight.
For those young, single and without a real job, the nightmare is much worse than for those of us with families, stable employment and decent homes.
COVID has exacerbated the social divide. A Belgian professor who examines his students online told me that one of them passed his exam from inside his crowded rented apartment toilet: this was the only space where he could have some privacy for a few minutes.
Many professions were hurt, and the state has tried to help. Those who didn’t get any support were the very young, those who make some money doing odd jobs. Not only are odd jobs no longer on offer, but you cannot even apply for compensation for the loss of such activity.
Misery today has a young face. “With no lovin’ in our souls/And no money in our coats…”
The worst is the loss of normal social and sexual life, the lack of places to go to spend the evenings, the criminalisation of any attempt to see friends over beers bought from the supermarket in the park.
Teenagers find it unbearable to spend each and every evening with their parents – and the feeling is probably mutual – but it’s the kids, not the parents, who are worse off for it.
To add insult to injury, talking heads on TV bombard us with messages victimising the young as being responsible for spreading the pandemic and, worse still, for passing it on to their elderly. I have heard of children sinking into the deepest depression because they lost a grandmother and were told it was their fault. COVID cruelty at its utmost…
Europe’s youth have called on EU leaders to stop blaming them for the second wave of the pandemic. Young people are not the culprit, they are the biggest victim.
It is high time the state started paying some sort of stipend to the young for the lost opportunities and provide the money without any kind of bureaucracy.
It is high time the discourse changed and the youth got the same attention in the media as the elderly.
We have heard of the new idea to vaccinate the young first – so that they would have a normal life sooner. It’s an idea worth exploring. Society owes a lot to our youth. They too deserve a round of applause.
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Views are the author’s