If you are under 20, this column is directed toward you.

Consider it a letter of apology, from someone who is more than triple your age — and sorry for what the world is dishing out to you right now.

There’s no excuse for what you are having to endure — going to school one day and staying home the next and spending hours staring at a computer monitor trying to focus on academics while the world around you is in chaos.

We, your elders, are supposed to have created a safe place for you, one that provides you adequate food, warmth and protection from diseases.

We have shunned our responsibility on that score, I’m afraid, and for that, I am truly sorry.

You should not have to be isolated in your homes, unable to visit your friends and grandparents, all because some of our leaders did not take this coronavirus seriously enough from the start and let it get out of hand. At this point in your lives, you should be going to the movies, playing sports, performing in musical events and acting in school plays.

I’m sorry you had to start your lives in such a scary world, one that wasn’t so frightening when we were your age.

We got vaccinated back then for polio, measles and other diseases and didn’t worry about getting sick.

We were fortunate our parents and other mentors listened to science and made sure we were protected. They didn’t lie to us and say such diseases would merely disappear one day and we needn’t be afraid.

Thus, we were able to live normal lives into our teens and 20s, free to go to school and college, dine in restaurants and patronize the theater and cinema. We never imagined that, one day, doing so could be deadly. Only in a horror or science fiction movie would we imagine that to be so.

We didn’t have school shootings. We didn’t have to witness what you did 11 days ago, when U.S. citizens stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., breaking down doors and smashing windows, taking over the offices and threatening to kill people looking out for our best interests.

We never should have let that happen, nor should we have led you to believe our government — and our democracy — would be immune from such violence.

I’m sorry that, in our zeal to look out for our own interests, yours got lost in the fray.

When I pass you on the street or in the grocery store, peering up at me over your face mask, I wonder what in the world you are thinking.

My heart breaks a little, knowing we have put you in this precarious position.

I want to tell you the world really isn’t like this. That some bad people touted some really bad lies that many believed and then everything started spiraling out of control. People started fighting. They couldn’t agree on anything. They got madder and madder and well, you know the rest.

I’m sorry if you are afraid and have a hard time sleeping at night over all of this.

I want to say something to make you feel better, to help ease your fears — but I don’t have the answers. The only thing I can promise is that there are a lot of good people out there working hard to right the wrongs and make things better.

They, you and I mustn’t ever give up. Together, we can create a kinder, safer world.

It’ll take honesty, hard work, flexibility, the willingness to listen, and a lot of humility.

I believe anything is possible if we try really hard.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can vow to pursue a better path.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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