An Open Letter to Gen Z
By Grace KA Brewer:
I read an article a while ago calling this generation "Generation Columbine."
It made me realize how much I’d grown accustomed to the headlines of mass shootings, fear, and panic. The prospect of our generation being coined after one of the most infamous school shootings wasn’t very surprising. Our entire life has been about anniversaries of past tragedies, reminders that it’s up to us to remind the world of humanity, faith, and love.
On December 7th, I stood in front of the flag and listened to my instructor talk about Pearl Harbor—men, killed while asleep on the ships, who never saw it coming. Every year on September 11th, I sat for a moment of silence. I thought about the world after that day. Now, I sit and I watch New York collapse under the weight of the coronavirus—something that’s changed the entire world—and we never saw it coming.
The “real world” seems uncomfortably close now as my class faces the loss of their senior year. Every single day of our lives, as you very well know, has been in preparation to walk across that stage. And now it may not happen. A parent said something about how we were "handling it with grace" because of everything we’d lived through, and I remembered the Generation Columbine article. We were trained to handle things with grace, exposed to tragedy from an early age. Because of that, it’s become our job to change the viewpoints of the world.
In the future, I don’t want it to fall to you to remind the world of hope, love, or humanity. The world shouldn’t need reminding. This is the time to be young, happy, and carefree. One day, you will buy your prom dress. You’ll pay for your cap and gown, make dinner reservations, go to practice for competitions, get ready for all these things. We don’t want you to lose them, too.
Some people are staying home for their parents, for essential workers, or their children. We are staying home for you. You shouldn’t have to handle these things. This was almost unavoidable. But we can help stop it for the future. You won’t be known as Generation COVID or whatever tragedy strikes in the future. You shouldn’t have to handle your losses with grace.
The lesson we are going to gather from this is that people are good, life is good, humanity doesn’t need saving, and the world doesn’t need reminders to love one another.
Appreciate every moment of these years. Hug your friends, tell them you love them. We want you to enjoy this time. We want you to sit in your class and enjoy the good moments. Don’t think about the test you failed, don’t worry about the homework. Go out, go to football games, tryout for the dance team, have fun! Enjoy these years. Take a moment, let it all sink in. Embrace your walk to class, your ride to school. Enjoy it. We have your back. We were your team captains, your friends, your role models. We love you, and we want you to have these things. And if that means staying home, missing out on so much, we’ll do it.
We were Generation Columbine. Generation Sandy Hook. Generation Marjory Stoneman Douglas. We were Generation Fear. But you won’t be. You will be the Generation that Overcame. And most of all, we want you to know that you will do amazing things. Today, you may be scared, but tomorrow you will be strong.
—The Graduating Class of 2020
Grace KA Brewer prefers a quote instead of a bio to explain how she moves in the world—
“Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world."
—Roy T. Bennett