A social media “friend” said, recently, that the COVID-19 pandemic would define a generation of Canadians, just as the Second World War defined what one American called “the greatest generation.”
My reaction is:
Now it’s important to remember that a call to arms, to risk your life to defend freedom and so on, can be very enticing, specially to young people … it was to about one million (mostly young) Canadian men and women (mostly men ~ it was 80 years ago when the call when out) and 40,000 of them ended up big killed in action ~ most of them were young men, but but not all: Brigadier J.K. Lawson, the commander of the Canadian brigade sent to Hong Kong was 54 when he as killed in action; my own father was 39 when he was killed in 1943. But, mostly, the boys, and most were just boys, who would never live the lives about which they hoped and dreamed, who were killed were about the same age as the mostly young people who ignored the warnings and partied ’til they dropped in Toronto. I guess that a call to stay home and watch TV is less inspiring than a call to risk everything in a noble cause. And, of course, not everyone ignored the call to stay home ~ I’m going to guess that many, many people, young and old, did as they were asked to do; just as in the Second World War not everyone answered the call to arms ~ Pierre Trudeau, for example, rejected the notion that defeating the Nazis was a worthy cause, it didn’t matter to French Canadians he said ~ and so while other Quebecers were amongst the million Canadians in uniform, fighting and dying to defeat fascism, to defend freedom and to protect Canada, he was hiding out in Harvard:
Maybe that’s the message my friend was sending. Maybe the COVID-19 crisis is defining a generation of young Canadians and maybe most of them are not making their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents proud.