In the Age of COVID-19, Young Americans Must Step Up. Here’s How. - America's Future

January 19, 2021

CulturePolicy

In the Age of COVID-19, Young Americans Must Step Up. Here’s How.

By: Chloe Anagnos

As many American cities enter another phase of pandemic-triggered lockdowns, businesses that managed to stay afloat after the several months of restrictions imposed nationwide brace for the worst. Unlike the first time around, many Americans seem convinced that shutdowns aren’t the answer and that, as a matter of fact, harsh restrictions on businesses often worsen the situation for countless people, many of whose livelihoods will never be restored following the lockdowns.

However difficult things might be, many vow not to comply. In addition, many also say they rather are there for small businesses facing bankruptcy than witnessing their communities collapse. Perhaps, both sentiments have something to do with the stronger sense of individual responsibility that the tough months now behind us helped to imbue in the hearts of Americans everywhere.

Community and Human Connection

Nothing helps to grow America more than free exchange.

Despite the ongoing cultural attack against capitalism, it is in the market, and especially in the kind that relies on small businesses founded and run by individuals or families, that we see the most immediate impact of free exchange.

The barber buys his lunch from the Italian restaurant a couple of blocks down the street, and the chef who prepares his meals heads to his shop every fifteen days for a trim. Both benefit countless others locally due to the simple fact that they live, work, and spend most of their time in their neighborhoods.

When the government, local or otherwise, imposes COVID-related restrictions on these businesses, keeping them from offering the services they provide to the number of people that could potentially benefit from them, they are not only limiting their earning capabilities, they are also restricting their ability to support the community.

Without individual businesses helping each other out through a free exchange, the very fabric of that community crumbles down. What follows is mass misery.

If nobody makes money, nobody spends any either.

According to a survey carried out by the London, United Kingdom-based consulting network Deloitte, the pandemic helped nearly three-fourths of all millennials and Gen Zs across the globe to feel more sympathetic towards the needs of others.

Furthermore, they also said that the difficulty they witnessed triggered the will to do more in order to positively impact their communities.

In the age of global shutdowns, making a positive impact on your local community is exactly what we need. But for that to happen, we must set clear goals. Simply saying we must do good for good’s sake often leads nowhere.

In this case, setting a clear goal might also help many young Americans better understand why they became more sympathetic to others in the first place.

Helping Businesses and Helping the Frail

By now we understand coronavirus more than we did several months ago. We know it is much harsher on the elderly and physically frail, and know how it spreads. The young and the healthy, those who need to work to both build their own careers and to provide for themselves and their families, therefore should know that they must and should be working. How about the elderly and the frail?

To them, being cautious is what matters the most.

Those of us with elderly parents or grandparents, and those whose friends or loved ones suffer from chronic illnesses must act accordingly to help keep them healthy. It only takes personal responsibility to get that done — not a government mandate. So once that is taken care of, what else can young Americans do?

If taking personal responsibility is what they feel inclined to do, supporting local businesses while taking steps to keep those close to us healthy is exactly the kind of positive impact our communities need.

In the same survey by Deloitte, millennials and Gen Zs said they were ready to go above and beyond to save local businesses, patronizing and supporting small shops through the pandemic. However, it isn’t clear whether they made the connection between supporting small businesses and acting on the strong sense of personal responsibility that was awakened by the pandemic.

If young Americans need a place to start, they should look at holding their elected officials accountable for the mistakes they made through the pandemic.

As we are faced with the realization that no, lockdowns were not necessary, why did state and local politicians render taxpayers unable to make a living? In addition, why are more lockdowns being put in place when we have enough data to prove stay-at-home orders are mainly unhelpful?

At this point, you simply cannot blame small business owners who feel they have been left behind by their own representatives. It is up to young men and women, American consumers, friends, family members, and neighbors to do the work politicians failed to do: we must put small business owners first.

As only large companies stay afloat in a world forced to isolate due to the pandemic, it is young people who will lead the way. Saying “no” to widespread and top-down business closures is part of what will make communities across the U.S. (and the globe) thrive.