POINT OF VIEW. Covid-19: turning 20 in 2020

During the Emmanuel Macron’s last television interview on Covid-19, a sentence caught the attention of many commentators: Yes it’s hard to be 20 in 2020 […]. I will never teach our young people a lesson because they are the ones who, honestly, live a terrible sacrifice. It is difficult not to find the correct and lucid observation. For eight months, the health crisis results in many uncertainties for the youth of our country and the rest of the world: partial unemployment, new hires frozen, cancellation of internships, postponed exams. To this must be added a certain deprivation of liberty. The pandemic requires young people not to go out after 9 p.m., to no longer meet with friends, or to organize wedding parties. In short, she asks them to be very serious because the disease is too.

These constraints make you want to feel solidarity with the younger generations more than ever. Solidarity takes two forms. The first is private: it translates into the material and psychological help that one can provide as a parent, family and friend. The second is public order, because not all young people can claim family support. Several measures announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex are welcome, such as the one consisting in extending to young people benefiting from housing assistance as well as to scholarship students the support of 150 euros which had been decided for the most precarious people. Other measures merit consideration. Among these, this perfectly legal practice of offering young people internships for a period of two consecutive months without any obligation of remuneration. Wouldn’t it be time to put an end to it, knowing that no objective criteria justify a young person (and most often a graduate) offering his expertise to a company or a public administration for the simple beauty of the gesture.

Don’t give in to pessimism

Young people are showing a lot of adaptation to the Covid crisis. In universities that, like mine, have decided to offer their courses online, every professor has questioned a student’s motivation to take a course behind their only computer. After several weeks of experience, the observation is there: the students connect punctually, follow the lessons assiduously (the format of which has certainly been adapted) and, above all, participate using all the resources offered by technology. These efforts frankly command respect, for it is not easy to study without being deprived of all the social life of the university.

Above all, making sacrifices does not mean giving in to pessimism. Older people need to tell younger people more than ever that their future remains open. First, because science will eventually find a cure for the virus which today causes death. It will take time, but it will succeed. Then, because our societies now know that major pandemics are part of the risks that our economies must face. There too, they will adapt to it.

A beautiful sentence from Georges Bernanos will allow everyone to continue thinking: It is the fever of youth that keeps the rest of the world at a normal temperature. When the youth get cold, the rest of the world chattering their teeth!

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