I don’t know which person in this video is more annoying, the college kid saying, “If I get corona, I get corona. I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” or the 93-year-old dissing the partiers: “They think they know it all. They think they’re better than children were years ago.” Both are foolish. The people protesting that it’s Gen Z crowding Florida beaches aren’t much better. “We Millennials are not at Spring Break. We’re at home yelling at our Boomer parents,” who won’t stay home because:
- they have “faith over fear;”
- they only watch Fox News and think the epidemic is a hoax;
- they’re not “elderly” and need to prove it by going out and about. (Let’s hear it for age denial of the lethal variety!)
Some young people are selfish and some are saints. The same, of course, is true of their elders. Many olders are healthy as horses, while many youngers are immunocompromised. Heroes of all ages are putting their lives on the line in clinics and hospitals around the world. Ethics and education and circumstance and culture and countless other factors shape behavior far more than age does. (See Helpful Diagram Below, the product of a fit of frustration earlier this week.)
Why is it so urgent to avoid old-vs.-young ways of framing this crisis? Because finger-pointing undermines the solidarity we need now—more than ever before in human history—across age, class, and borders. As that Washington Post article points out, “What happens next depends largely on us—our government, politicians, health institutions and, in particular, 328 million inhabitants of this country—all making tiny decisions on an daily basis with outsize consequences for our collective future.” The future of the entire world, that is.