So you know how you can sort of measure how old you are — what generation you belong to — by the first national crisis you remember? (For me, it’s the Challenger explosion — I believe I was six at the time).
Teachers play a similar game, except we do it with our students. For example, it was a rough day for me when I realized that I am no longer teaching anybody who was alive when 9/11 happened. My students these days had not been born yet — weren’t a twinkle in their parents’ eyes, even.
Which had me thinking … well … where’s their first crisis moment coming? These things roll around generationally, so one seems due.
And it hit me. COVID is their crisis moment. It just doesn’t feel like one.
Think of your moment. It’s just that, a moment. The Challenger going up in two pillars of smoke in the atmosphere. The Twin Towers coming down. The carnage at the Boston Marathon. (Smaller scale, but still nationally covered.) Lots of souls, tragically snuffed out in an instant.
With COVID, you can’t point to that moment. You don’t have that strong sense of memory burned into your brain, that piece of you that somehow always remembers I was sitting in the classroom, three rows back, when the teacher rolled the TV into the room and turned it on… Because COVID has been going for months. There is no moment.
But make no mistake. This is the moment.
Here in the ‘States we’re knocking on the door of 200,000 people dead from this thing. (Unofficial numbers are certainly staggeringly higher.)
Roughly 3,000 people died on 9/11.
COVID has given us as many deaths as sixty-six 9/11s, and it’s far from finished. Put another way, it’s giving us roughly one more 9/11 every 3-5 days.
A 9/11-level loss of life every few days.
How could COVID not be this generation’s crisis moment?
And we still have people in our country pretending it’s no big deal.
Maybe that is the real crisis moment.