An open letter to the younger generation during this time of COVID-19

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March 19, 2020
Leona Dueck Penner | Special to Canadian Mennonite

Leona Dueck Penner’s husband, Peter Dueck Penner, walks with their granddaughter Rielle on the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Leona Dueck Penner)

Leona Dueck Penner’s husband, Peter Dueck Penner, walks with their granddaughter Rielle on the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Leona Dueck Penner)

This morning I awoke thankful that my husband and I—both 75-plus—can still be part of what's happening in our world: to observe and encourage the younger generation as they lead us through this present crisis. 

Overall, despite the huge challenges our world faces, young people have such hopeful, fresh ways of thinking and working with the problems they encounter, many of which are beyond our understanding. 

We see this in the fresh energy of our three granddaughters, two adults and a child, who impress us with their joy in living and the way they practise their vocations in education, nursing, and the art of being a child who loves painting! 

We're in awe of them and their generation, and trust them to lead us on paths towards new and healthier ways of living that we can only imagine. And we want to help them in doing our part as seniors, by self-isolating when we are unwell (as we needed to do this weekend), by practising social distancing and by not stockpiling food and other items, so that we don't add to the present challenges which they and our world face right now. 

Also, we want to encourage them in their work, remembering and reminding them that there have been many crises before this, such as the 1918 Spanish Flu in which my husband’s grandfather died at age 39, not to mention all the man-made crises related to political conflict and war. Yet, somehow, we humans do find our way through, albeit not without pain and loss. 

So as our Mozambican friends used to say during a time of war and famine when we worked with them in the 1980s: “A luta continua!” The struggle continues. We can overcome.

Indeed they did. We will too.

Leona Dueck Penner was Canadian Mennonite’s national correspondent from 2002 to 2007. She lives in Waterloo, Ont.

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Leona Dueck Penner’s husband, Peter Dueck Penner, walks with their granddaughter Rielle on the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Leona Dueck Penner)

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