Dear Gen-Z,

The other day, I woke up feeling stagnant. I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately, like someone hit the pause button in March and life has just stopped. This year, I have spent a lot of time at home, alone—I’ve slipped into a daily routine where I sleep, eat, work, sleep eat work sleepeatwork with the days and weeks and months blending together (how is it already October?). But these stagnant feelings confuse me, especially with the way that the current state of the country scares the shit out of me.

The world is terrifying right now. Scratch that, the world has always been terrifying, and maybe it’s because the world has disappointed us so many times that we’ve become desensitized to injustice, violence, and, let’s be honest, the shitshow that we’ve always known. Gen-Z: the generation that grew up with 9/11, school shootings, ICE, two American-instigated wars, the giant island of trash in the middle of the ocean, and the looming existential truth that, unchecked, climate change will end society as we know it. We’ve lived through the 2008 economic downturn; we know Dylann Roof’s face; our families have struggled through hurricanes and forest fires, and now a global pandemic. It’s been two chaotic decades.

It feels like it has always been like this. But it hasn’t.

This is not normal.

There will always be some amount of entropy—that is certain. But currently, it feels like the whole world is falling apart. It has never been this bad. Right now, things are spiraling in a particularly morbid fashion. And of course, everything will affect our generation more than those who are currently in power. We are so used to getting the short end of the stick that it does beg the question: why should we care?

I know it feels like it has always been like this. And I am sorry that we have had to grow up so quickly and do the work that we shouldn’t have to do. I’m sorry that we have had to protest and march for our civil rights. I’m sorry that we have had to fight for our safety in school. I’m sorry that we have had to yell and shout to make our leaders understand that if we don’t solve climate change there won’t be a future for us, let alone our children. I’m sorry that we have had to be organizers and leaders because adults won’t act with urgency. I’m sorry that the system doesn’t work for us. I’m sorry that we are ignored. If you’re scared, trust me, I am too. I’m sorry. But cannot let ourselves be paralyzed by fear and we certainly cannot give up hope.

Whether we like it or not, it’s up to us to solve the myriad problems that we are inheriting. And unfortunately, this election will decide how much we can change over not only the next four years but over the next few decades. No one wanted our future to hinge on a political event involving two flawed (but not equally flawed) candidates. No one asked for this. But unfortunately, if we want to solve the climate crisis, if we want to abolish ICE, if we want to protect healthcare, if we want to end this pandemic: this election is a matter of life and death. If we want to have a chance to not just maintain our democratic system but improve it so that it works for everyone, we have to care about this election.

I know that I’m probably preaching to the choir, but please: on November 3rd, come to terms with all of his flaws and vote for Joe Biden. If you can’t vote, make sure every one of your eligible friends and family members turns out. The election is only 26 days away. So, register voters, phone bank, text bank, write letters and postcards, do anything you can to get involved in this election—it could be the most important one of our entire lives. Treat this election like lives depend on it because they do. Our generation must be better than those who came before us, and we have to remember that we have the power to do so—nearly 40% of the electorate will be made up of Gen-Z and Millenials. As writers and artists, we have a special ability to communicate with the world, to call our people to action, to make a statement. Now is the time to use our skills to protect our democracy. It is so easy to feel stagnant and insignificant during this time. And even though the world is literally on fire right now, know your power; have faith that you can make a difference. We can do it. We have to.

In solidarity,

Sharmila Dey
Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief
Carnegiea Literary Magazine

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