Finding power in a powerless time – USJ Best of 2020

Jane McCauley, Editor-in-Chief

This story was originally published Sep. 22, 2020, and then again in the October 2020 issue of the Union Street Journal. The USJ staff voted this article as the best of 2020 opinions.

It’s been easy to feel helpless in high school. I’m sure most of us have experienced some of the aftermath of events that we had no control over – that sinking feeling of losing all power or sense of direction in our lives. Especially now more than ever, losing our high school experiences and memories to a pandemic has been more than challenging.

But for the first time, we actually have the ability to make a change and take back some of that power we’ve lost. The best part is that it’s simple – wear a mask when you can’t stay home, and for god’s sake, don’t go out and party, and vote if you’re eligible.

I’m sure many other seventeen year olds like myself are feeling the same frustration of being too young to vote, and not feeling like there’s anything we can do. But there’s still so much action we can take without even submitting a ballot or stepping into a polling booth.

According to Hackensack Meridian Health, we are one of the most influential generations to help prevent the spread of COVID.

I don’t think this is a very surprising topic for many of us because we all know the impact we can make with our social media accounts and how powerful our influence in and out of school is.

But I also think that the responsibility that comes with this role is undermined when we take advantage of that fact that we can do whatever we want without thought to the other people in our community.

I know we want things to go back to normal. I know no one wants to hear any more lectures about doing the “right thing” and how you shouldn’t go to parties. I also know that this makes people want to just do something that will make everything feel like everything isn’t surreal either.

But it’s different now. Not only are other lives at stake, but our control over our democracy, our communities, and our homes filled with our loved ones are at stake.

When we knowingly go to a party, and we don’t wear a mask, we endanger the parents or grandparents of the people who sit near you in your classrooms. The students who sit next to you chose to come to school because learning at home full-time might be an impossible situation for them.

When we knowingly see others go out without taking any precautions instead of staying home, we endanger the lives of our teachers and their families. They come into school for our well-being and for our education.

Now is not the time to “take the chance” that you won’t get caught or you won’t have any consequences. Now is really the time to take the extra precaution of staying home whenever you can. Only go out if you have to, and wear a mask when you do.

We finally have the opportunity to make sure we’re the generation that pushes other people to be the responsible ones taking every extra step possible to stop the spread of this virus instead of being the bad example that’s being criticized.

Consider what is on the line right now. Consider the people who are really endangering everyone by trying to cross it, and consider what kind of power you have to stop it.

To view the original story, click here.