A lack of empathy between generations – past, present and future

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fault lines between generations – old, young and even future. While the young have had to put their lives on hold to protect the old, the old have had to live in fear and the young have enjoyed a certain degree of reckless abandon. But the tables will turn, and to some degree already have. The old are the first in line for the vaccine, while the young have tended to be the first in line at the dole queue. The young are going to bear the financial brunt of the pandemic for many years to come when the old are dying of natural causes. Few young people have fixed assets or savings, and many were already struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder. All that against the backdrop now of what’s one of the most perilous job markets in decades. How can we foster closer ties between the generations to allow for more empathy, cohesion, and innovation within society? How can the young learn from the old, and the old from the young? And what of the rights of future generations? Scientists say that it’s almost inevitable that there will be another pandemic in many of our lifetimes so how can we make sure that future generations are better prepared? What smart collective action are we pursuing to prevent this from ever happening again? For even if we don’t ask ourselves this question, future generations certainly will be… Today’s youth tear down colonial statues, but what will tomorrow’s youth be tearing us apart for? There’s a need for less short-termism in political life and more long-term thinking if democracies are to survive and thrive.




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