MOVING FORWARD IN THE COVID-ERA-- YOUNG PEOPLE HOLD THE KEY

AS COVID-19 CASES RE-SURGE & LEADERSHIP FAILS, TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS HOLD THE KEY

     
- But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young.'  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I give to you to say to them.  Do not be afraid, because I am always with you and will keep you safe," declares the Lord.  "I have put My Words in your mouth.  Today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms.  Get yourself ready!  Stand up and say to them whatever I tell you to say.  Today I have made you a fortified city to stand against the whole land."  (Jeremiah 1:8-10, 17-18)

Around the world and throughout history, movements for justice equity and social change have been birthed and executed by teens and young adults.

This global demographic has consistently demonstrated that they possess the energy, enthusiasm, passion, purpose-drive, courage & tech savvy-ness to move “barometers“ within many facets of the community, economy and politics.  Their work has been recognized as atmosphere-shifting and their work-product has dramatically impacted and changed the socio-cultural landscape around the world.  In other words, young people, throughout history, have shown that when focused and organized, their combination of boldness and radical, disruptive and confrontational thinking has the capacity to get things done in the name of change.

Our “now“ reality within the ongoing 'space' of COVID-19 is that the largely economy-driven rush to “re-open America“ has placed our country at substantial health risk.  Our approach, which experts around the world and in this country will agree, was doomed to fail from the start, is doing just that-- failing.  I do not imply that these decisions were made out of malice, but as a scientist and health professional I can only attest to what the data demonstrate have been the impacts of this rushed, uninformed and irresponsible decision making.

Just several days into the summer, and our country is at yet another public health impasse.

The number of cases is rising and although some of the rise is to be expected as a result of increased testing, more alarming is the exponential increase in hospitalizations.

If hospitalized patients represent only a small part of the total number of positive cases, then a 10-fold increase in hospitalizations, in real numbers and in real time, represents a 50-fold or more increase in the total number of cases.

   - We still have a feeble community based testing infrastructure.

   - We still have “immunity“ testing with accuracy that is suspect at best.

   - We still have no real consensus – approved treatment strategies for hospitalized and critically ill patients.

   - We still have an inadequate public health driven contact tracing apparatus

   - We still have no available means of vaccinating the public

   - We now have hospitals around the country that are re-opening their COVID units in order to handle this “now“ surge and what we know will be the “next“ disaster if we do not mobilize a grassroots strategy now!

And we still have leadership at high levels that remains permanently divorced from truth-telling while silencing learned and scientifically-expert truth-tellers — leaders and their circle of dysfunctional enablers that possess a dangerous combination of being uninformed, arrogant, biased and afraid to speak-up or act; many of whom also lack empathy, adequate cognitive and emotional intelligence; and simple common sense.

And historically, in times of crisis, and at times when it becomes clear that our elected and entrusted leaders are failing in their decision making, young people have risen up!   Furthermore, there are countless stories in Scripture that speak of the power found within the movement of faithful and God-focused young people.

And although what I am about to pen next may sound overly dramatic, I guarantee you it is not.

We have not yet made it through the “first wave“ of this pandemic and there is absolutely no doubt among those whose expertise and scientific opinion matters, that a second wave is coming.

RIGHT NOW, how our 15–30-year-olds mobilize and move will absolutely shape the next SEVERAL YEARS in our country's COVID-19 narrative.

RIGHT NOW, if our 15–30 year-olds, use all of the tools at their disposal to fearlessly and faithfully communicate the critical importance of face-coverings, social distancing, handwashing and getting tested, we can beat-back this virus that is once again starting to surge nationwide.

RIGHT NOW, if our 15–30 year-olds will lead by example and model, among their peer-group, the behaviors of face-coverings, social distancing, handwashing and getting tested; behaviors that have been clearly and globally shown to almost eliminate the threat of this virus— we can stop this resurgence in its tracks!

RIGHT NOW, if our globally conscious, and “other“-focused 15-30-year-olds attack this issue of social responsibility and population health with the same fervor that they have exhibited in fueling a now-global “Black Lives Matter“ movement for equity and social justice, we can continue our recovery and return to "new"-normalcy.

As a frontline physician, I have seen the devastation of unchecked COVID infection and know that what is coming will potentially cripple our already-over-worked, under-staffed and sub-optimally-equipped healthcare infrastructure.

As a community Christian church pastor, I am 'living' the stories of sadness and struggle with congregants, communities and ministry colleagues; while also celebrating the power and passion of our courageous youth, teen and young adult ministries around the country and the globe.

 As a  “50-something” man who is a husband, father, friend, son, sibling, mentor and life-coach and sports coach; I desire that all of those whom God has placed in my personal 'airspace' will enjoy health, wellness, wholeness and safety.

So I issue this faith-driven and prayerful clarion call to all young people and say to you personally that I believe in you, and I am here to listen, to offer counsel, and to help you access the resources that you need to be the powerful and courageous change-agents that God has called, equipped, prepared, and positioned you to be.

I am energized by your passion and encouraged by your social consciousness and have faith in your ability to receive and apply the 'counsel, sound judgment and wisdom that God has promised to freely and graciously give.

If no one else will say it or admit it, I am counting on you to help this nation save it self from itself!  I encourage all who read this post to share it using the hashtag below.  How we all respond in this "now" moment will significantly shape our "next" chapter in this global coronavirus saga.  The virus may appear to be the protagonist, but we know that our God, the supreme judge is the true author.  He has scripted for all of us, from the beginning of the beginning of time, to take control and to shape this world such that we, His prized masterpiece, are blessed and He gets all the glory!

  #COVIDCOURAGEOUS

Reverend Christopher T Conti, MD is the Lead Pastor of Emmanuel Pittsburgh and a licensed emergency medicine physician, author and Christian Life Coach