This lovely little video made by a 9th grader named Liv McNeil touched my heart and inspired me to write this blog post. Click on the highlighted text above to view the video. It is beautifully made and worth watching. It shows a side of teenagers that we adults tend to overlook.
I love teenagers. I know; that’s not a popular opinion. But, hear me out. They are so much more than we give them credit for. With their younger eyes, they see what we adults are too closed off to see. They are brave and real and don’t buy into the social narrative as easily as we adults do. They have courage to question the norm and seek truth–something we adults probably used to do when we were teenagers, too. We can learn a lot from teenagers, if we only listen to them.
Teenagers, children, and other vulnerable populations are paying a high price for the shutdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing guidelines that have become the norm across the developed world. While many of us middle-class adults are working from home, sipping our Keurig coffees and shopping online, many others are struggling to meet their basic needs in physical, emotional, and spiritual domains. Our teenagers are some of these people, and they are suffering alongside other vulnerable populations in numerous ways.
Take mental health, for example. Suicide rates have increased over the last several months, and ER doctors are reporting an uptick in child abuse and mental illness. Our teens are killing themselves at record rates.
Why is this happening? And more importantly, do we care?
According to van der Westhuizen, et. al, “Several studies show that long-term exposure to socio-psychological stress leaves neuro-epigenetic scars that are difficult to cure in young people and often escalate into mental behavioral problems and a weakened immune system [22-26]. A recent study by the CDC concludes that in young adults (18-24 years), the level of anxiety and depression has increased by 63% since the corona crisis. A quarter of them think about suicide.” The corona policies that have swept the world have created a level of stress that is unprecedented in modern times.
In addition to teenagers taking the brunt of corona policies, people suffering from homelessness, mental illness, and other vulnerable populations have lost access to resources and safe places to spend their time, becoming further isolated and disconnected from their communities and supports.
Single mothers of young children are faced with the impossible task of supporting their families while overseeing their children’s education at home, creating a level of stress and a demand on an already struggling population that has not happened since war times.
Business owners around the world have lost their livelihoods, jobs, and businesses that have been passed down through families for generations, and are receiving loans from the government that are increasing our debt by amounts we cannot yet comprehend.
A generation of Kindergarteners has never seen their teachers’ facial expressions in person. A generation of babies has not been held by their grandparents, seen the smile of a stranger, or played with other babies. Critical pieces to healthy social-emotional development have been taken from a generation of our young ones. This has never before happened in the history of the developed world.
Our narrow focus of eliminating a virus has blinded us from the cost of it all. What is the price we are willing to pay in attempt to slow the spread of a virus that has a survival rate in the upper 90th percentile?
It’s like we’re stuck in a bad poker game and we just won’t quit, even when our money has run out, even when it’s clear we’ve already lost more than can ever be regained. We will not discuss the limit; we will not consider the possibility that we are causing more harm than good, or that we are transferring potential harm from one population (the elderly) onto other populations (young people and the poor). We justify action based on emotionality alone, rather than by assessing data and applying reason.
We justify our strong-armed government mandates under the guise of “the common good.” But, is it really?
What if we are wrong? What if there is another way–a better way?
While pondering or dismissing the idea that we might be wrong, we desperately pretend we know what we are doing. We justify government control through our emotionality and our unquestioned blind belief in the social narrative. Like so many of our ancestors did during slavery and the Nazi eras, we follow the norm without question, turning a blind eye to the collateral damage and turning on anyone who goes against the grain. We turn a cheek to the data coming from China or Sweden, showing asymptomatic transmission is not a concern, that children do not spread the virus at significant rates, and that the vulnerable can be protected without destroying the economy. Even data from our own United States is unheard by the masses, while we keep children away from school or send them to school with masks on.
Government mandated shutdowns began in Minnesota on March 16, 2020. Initially, we were told not to wear masks, because viruses pass through masks and they should be reserved for medical professions. Almost a year later, there is no end in sight. We are now told to wear multiple masks and that children must wear masks while playing sports, even though solid research has shown children do not tend to spread coronavirus. Meanwhile, no hard data exists to support safety or necessity of mandated mask wearing of healthy people in normal situations. Businesses have closed, communities and economies are slowly crumbling. before our eyes. Where is the concern for our self-inflicted economic destruction?
The vaccine is touted as safe and necessary, although it comes with only 2 months of research data on safety or efficacy, and a new strain of covid is already spreading throughout the world. Vaccinated people are still required to wear masks, social distance, and not allowed to work out at the gym mask-less or browse books at the library.
To add to the irony, we are told that dying from covid is an unacceptable way for anyone to die, while millions die around the world each year from other causes. Why are we not shutting down fast food restaurants and banning cigarettes to stop the 17.6 million annual deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease? Why are we not banning pthalates, pesticides, and diesel exhaust in order to curb cancer, as the second leading cause of death worldwide, taking 8.2 million lives per year?
So far, if I am doing the math correctly, deaths attributed to coronavirus make up a mere .4% of total deaths worldwide over the last year. We have shut down the world in attempt to curb .4% of deaths worldwide. And, based on the high numbers of deaths attributed to covid-19, it seems our policies have failed what they set out to do: stop covid-19 from killing people.
While we fearfully try to go about our lives wearing our dirty, wet, reused masks of questionable effectiveness, vaccine company CEOs and mask manufacturers become richer by the minute. We common folk become increasingly scared, divided, and isolated. Wildlife starts to die at alarming rates as a consequence of human waste, including masks and plastic gloves being discarded into the ocean. We’re told not to question our government’s orders, and we turn on our neighbors, friends and families who disagree with the heavy-handed government mandates. Freedom of belief, speech, and religion are forgotten. We’re told to trust what we are fed by mainstream news. Mainstream social media blocks anyone who presents a narrative different from the norm or questions the validity of government decisions. Families are divided and friends turn against each other. Children are fed one side and told only one truth exists, and they quietly abide to having their faces covered all day at school. Sound familiar?
And meanwhile, the virus spreads, anyway. The virus mutates. Because that is what viruses do and have always done.
We live our “new normal” of mask wearing and distancing from other humans, and our fear of suffering and death grows stronger. We resist the natural order of things. We lose touch with our higher power. We lose respect for nature and forget that nature is strong and wise. We forget that we are a part of nature. We forget that each of us will die and that suffering and death are vital pieces to the great circle of life.
Is anyone out there who sees it and feels it, too?
There has got to be a better way.
And so, I sign off with a wish for us all:
May we be stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. May we consider the needs of our children and teenagers so that they may become compassionate and capable adults who will one day run our governments. May everyone in the whole world be blessed.