A New Generation

Kendall Sontag
Feb 1, 2012 at 11:26 AM

When I converse with my peers about current events, I tend to get one of two responses: that of ignorance, or that of despair.  The ignorant aren't the ones that I would like to reach in this article; they still have a lot to learn and a lot of waking up to do.  Instead, I want to reach those who no longer have hope -- those who see the police state forming and feel that if their candidate of choice doesn't win the presidency, well then, there is no more use trying.  I have news for you, friends:  You have a lot more power than you realize.

Each upcoming generation has a great, underrated power over older generations: inevitability.  There is no way to get around it; we will be the leaders of the world, and as such, we are the ones responsible for the world we live in.  We cannot be like the political leaders we despise and blame it on generations passed.

We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country. -- Thomas Jefferson

Have we already forgotten the lessons of the 60's, or did we simply learn the wrong ones?  I contend it's the latter, another failure of our abysmal education system.  But I digress.  The real lesson to be learned is that the people have the power, especially the youth.  The youth overwhelmingly participated in the civil rights protests -- the sit-ins, the marches, and the boycotts.  In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. himself was born in 1929, making him a relatively youthful leader.

However, I'm not saying that we have a lack of activism for our generation.  Rather, we have a lack of hope, at least beyond 2012.  YAL of course is a shining example of great political activism, but we need more social activism.  Now you can't exactly separate political activism from social activism, as the state now regulates society, but I'm asking for a different kind of social activism; one more in tune with the 1960s:  Peacefully disobey unjust laws.

Obviously it won't work too well individually, you'll be arrested; however, in order to create a world in which we wish to live, we must be willing make the changes and tough choices necessary to create that world.  As Ghandi said, "be the change you wish to see in the world." 

I see news headlines about occupations and riots throughout the world.  Is this really the type of world we envision?  Yes, it may get us our desired results, but eventually the same thing will happen to us.  Why is it that those countries who have their constitution altered once, have it altered over and over again?  Because once a precedent is set, it will be adhered to for generations to come.  It is perfectly reasonable for a new generation to find a law or practice unjust, but to disrupt the daily lives of others and to allow lewd behavior is not just either.  As long as we are willing to behave in this way or condone this behavior, we are likely to be treated in kind.  Besides, the end does not justify the means.  Kill your enemy with kindness, or "conquer him with love," as Ghandi stated.

Those who protest in immoral ways are not the only ones to blame however, those who refuse to say anything are just as much to blame.  We all must be willing to stand up and condemn both the actions of those in power, and the actions of immoral protesters.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

I mean, honestly, what can be more important than working to create a better world?  Isn't that what we all try to do?  Isn't that why we're here?  I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, I didn't dream of becoming a millionaire -- at least, not unless I was planning on giving that money away to help others.  But truly, what's the point of making money if you don't have the freedom to do what you want with it?  Or what's the purpose of owning a home if the government is allowed to enter at any time, or it can be seized from you?  What's the purpose of having a mode of transportation if you can be watched or the government is going to grope you at every step of the way?

But the government isn't the only source of our problems; we also have a problem with commonly accepted social norms and societal pressures and practices.  Our relationships and the way we treat people are obviously issues, but those have been issues since the beginning of time.  While we can help to fix that with love and respect, we can make a direct impact in other places.  Most people today agree that there is a problem with banks, yet most of us have done nothing about it.  We can make an immediate impact by making the switch to a credit union or taking our money out of the banking system completely.  Stop using credit cards and we can work our way out of the interest/debt society we've worked our way into. 

Those of us that have problems with big, corrupt corporations need to do a better job of not purchasing their goods/services; it's as simple as that.  Use your power as individual to make moral choices in society and together we can make an impact.  Individually we won't make much of a difference, but collectively we can change the world.  Like Thomas Jefferson said, "every generation needs a new revolution," and this is ours.

We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last. -- John F. Kennedy

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