2020 graduates

Constant talk about how much high school students are losing as a result of the covid virus has, inevitably, caused me to think back to the days of my own muddled education.

It would be grossly unfair to compare my school days with the experience of today’s students and yet I find myself slightly unsympathetic of young people who are being deprived of their senior year activities.

Note: I said "slightly"

If their lives are shattered by the loss of a few social functions, I find myself wondering, how are they going to survive life’s more demanding trials? I know that graduation is a rite of passage, but it is one that can actually be lived without. A disappointment, no doubt, for those who expected to be valedictorian. But for them there will certainly be other such opportunities in life.

This probably sounds very harsh, and I know the World is a very different place than the one in which I grew up. But people are still people. Basic needs are still the same.

The problem I have is that my mind automatically takes me to those who are really, badly, affected by all the closures. People who have lost jobs, possibly permanently and have no means of paying for food and shelter, talk about basic needs! Many people are in dire straits.

Many, (most?) of the kids sitting at home feeling cut off and deprived have a wealth of technology available to them.

They have cellphones, Facetime, Zoom and all the rest.

Anytime my elders used to say to me “when I was a child…”, I would cringe and say to myself “but it’s different now”, so I hesitate to say it myself, but:

What I will say, to all those young adults, is that they should try imagining how very much worse their situation could be, without all those forms of communication, without the Internet and all it provides.

It wouldn’t hurt them, either, to think about other people their age, around the World, who may not even have attended school at all.

When young people feel sad at losing the year which was expected to be so special, they could ask themselves this: how would it be to wake in the morning, with the only expectation being of spending another 12 or more hours scratching in a garbage heap of luckier people’s waste?

I know, I know. This is cruel. But so is life and I imagine that it is to become more so, unless the virus leaves us with some very tough lessons.

I am cynical enough to have doubts.

Alright, let’s forget about the garbage scratchers (there really are such people.) Instead, let’s just think about other students who don’t look forward to their school experience, ever, as they are teased or harassed simply because they are different, and that can be anything from colour, race, creed, disability, on and on…

What I am saying, I suppose, is that these young people who are about to leave High School, ought not to dwell on the unfortunate way their year has turned out.

They should not feel deprived, but should turn it into a different sort of learning experience.

With the availability of the Internet, young people can still explore the planet, actually in a great deal more comfort than they otherwise might.

Instead of visiting one or two countries, they could visit one or two continents.

Or they could explore a particular subject that interests them. Like how a tiny hummingbird travels up and down from Mexico!

There should not be a boring hour in any young life.

Personally, if I was that age and able-bodied, I would be inclined to spend some hours thinking about the future and the way in which humanity could change in order to become less dysfunctional. I would be asking myself what function I might have in that new World.

Maybe I’ve forgotten what it is like to be young and wanting to have fun, wanting to have a boyfriend and to be carefree.

No, I haven’t forgotten.

I would love to save young people from the hardships life will send them in one way or another.

I don’t know how to do it, but one thing I do know to be important and that is the ability to see beyond oneself, to be able to put oneself in someone else’s shoes.

Yellow and red are not my favourite colours and I have always really disliked them in combination, for some reason, but in these tulips I find them so pretty. Even at my ancient age I can see things differently!

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