Dear humans of the future,
Remember how one day we woke up, and suddenly, we were swamped away by uncertainty.
We were engulfed by fear, when we realized that COVID-19 has hit our countries, and will soon hit our homes and schools. We were flooded by dark deadly news, and Facebook notifications that schools will be closed.
We were spammed by emails saying that the exams we studied so hard for are now cancelled. We were flooded by Instagram DMs that we won’t be able to take graduation selfies with that hat. We were haunted by the news that several countries will go in lockdowns. We woke up to tweets outlining the number of deaths due to COVID-19, and to polls showing an increase in the number of coronavirus infections.
We saw the impact of corona in other neighbouring countries through Snapchats, and secretly wished our country would cope better. We suddenly rushed to our hometowns in the comfort of our home, while some of us were trapped in other countries because borders were closed.
I hope that what I’m about to disclose to you, you only learn about in History textbooks and it is never something you never have to experience, relive, or see from afar. I hope that you will be able to reap the fruits of a better humanity, and if you are reading this, after 2020, please know that the world was on a roller coaster wheel but we survived this.
This brought us closer to humanity
Our safety blanket and fluffy cushions were taken from us, and we had to navigate through this chaos without our loved ones, without no one to hold, or hug. Not kissing someone used to be a brave act of love.
If the virus hit one of our loved ones hard, we were not able to accompany them to hospitals. We were not able to hold their hand or visit them during visiting hours and give them soup. They only had exhausted hospital staff risking their own lives to see them through days or weeks of barely breathing through a ventilator until they die or recover. We were only able to sit home alone and pray that they made it, and they didn’t even have the energy to video call us. But we had funerals via video chats.
This brought us closer to humanity, it taught us to hug people 15 seconds more, it taught us to appreciate people in our lives. It taught us pain, and suffering, and to be close to each other despite the distance. It taught us to love harder.
Corona came with a handbook with a bundle of lessons for humanity, which I hope you will share with your kids. We struggled through lockdowns, curfews, quarantines, and self isolation and one virus taught us that it is only when we are together that we are more human.
Your generation might take this for granted, but we lost hundreds of thousands of lives. Hundreds of thousands of lives for you to know the magic and weight of humanity. For you to lead with compassion, and empathy.
When the lockdown was lifted, we never ever took for granted those coffee dates, those Sunday family dinners, those unexpected hugs, those random conversations with strangers in the train. Corona made us naked and vulnerable, and motivated us to work on ourselves and this is why we now walk without masks and filters, because we once used to wear masks to supermarkets, to shops, to parks to everywhere.
We were triggered. Some of us buried our death eaters but we saw them resurfacing. Anxiety. Depression. Trauma. PTSD. Panic attacks. We faced a mental health crisis. This global pandemic made some people experience mental health issues for the first time. Your textbook probably describes this as a collective trauma, and I can tell you that it’s true.
Maybe, you are googling “mental health awareness” and thinking it’s so outdated. But, we had to fight for this too, luckily when the corona got over, the stigma around mental health faded, and this is why, you do not have to face backlash for taking mental health days at work, or for talking about antidepressants and suicide.
People like my mom and dad worked at the frontlines. They risked their lives everyday. So did many other heroes and sheroes, to keep the system running. Global martyrs.
This is probably why you have #frontlinersThursday where you dedicate them flowers. That’s the rationale of that chapter in your history book about Frontliners. There were people like myself who worked to help domestic violence survivors, trapped in their homes during this lockdown, and I hope that your generation will not turn a blind eye to that, and refuse to acknowledge that domestic violence is real. I hope that when you learn about this particular chapter at school, you do not doze off in front of your laptop.
A world after corona
Talking about flowers, we have plenty of those now. Also trees. And forests. The sky is clear and blue. The air quality is at its best. But it wasn’t like this before corona. Pollution. Climate change. This used to make us nervous. But after corona, the world healed to some extent. I hope your generation will not make the same mistakes as we did, and make irreversible environmental damage. This pandemic exposed a broken system and I hope that your generation will fix this. We are also deeply very sorry for the permanent damage, we tried so hard. We cried. Take it from someone who has been there.
You now work at home, or study from home, but back then, we actually had to commute to school and to work. Run late. Grab a coffee while waiting for the train. See the same scenery everyday. Deal with cranky bosses and lecturers. Sit near our crush at school. Day-dream in class. When corona forced us to transfer our lives online, we realized what an amazing gift technology can be but with the increasing online violence, we confirmed that it's a double edged sword. I hope you will take this legacy ahead, and take technology and science to new levels. Did your generation manage to take men to Mars?
After the crisis, and a health crisis, we were faced with another global economic crisis. People starved. People lost their income and jobs. It took us much time to salvage this mess. Leadership was tested. Humanity was tested. Courage was tested. Yet, we managed to emerge stronger and better. We worked harder to rebuild what was left, with our red, raw, hands scarred by endless detergents, and sanitizers. But we made it.
The world is not perfect right now, with all the collateral damage but we did our best even when our dreams, hopes, plans, and lives were taken away. I hope that when similar situations crop up again ,you will also do your best. You will be brave, show compassion, and be stronger than us all.
Do not let us down. We build this new world for you. We re-imagined this world for you.
Maybe I will make it. Maybe I will not make it. But I sincerely hope that my message will make it.
A 21-year old girl, typing this, at 02.18, on a Friday during quarantine life,
Love, love and love,
This letter, by Voices of Youth writer Yeshna Dindoyal, is part of a series of blogs where young people identify and implement innovative solutions for a better future. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is normal to feel you are no longer in control of your future, or be uncertain about your next steps in life. We must listen to young people and work alongside them to design a better future. To Reimagine it. Do you want to share your vision, too?