Nicolas Cassella laments the lethargy of our age
Let’s face it Gen Y. We are the generation of ‘why bother?’
When I discussed politics with friends this past weekend, a few of them began lamenting the fact that there is no youth movement in our time. How there’s no Woodstock to attend to. No marches with Martin Luther King Jr. at the front. No Berlin Wall to tear down.
What about climate change? I asked. The earth can handle it, they answered. What about health care reform? My family is already covered, they rebuked. What about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? We’re never going to solve that, they conceded.
There it was, our generation’s predicament in thirty seconds. Nothing excites a majority of our generation to get actively involved, all because there is no perceived immediate threat. Through this perception, our complacency is nurtured. We don’t have a letter coming from the military saying ‘Hello soldier, pack your bags, you’re going to Afghanistan now!’ We don’t see the effects of climate change raising sea levels and sinking cities daily.
Because none of these catastrophes are presenting themselves, these issues merely fade into the background noise of our lives. Why worry about something that isn’t happening now? We are engaging in ethical procrastination. It neither enrages the youth’s morality nor affects us so directly that we are forced to enact change.
Yet we live in a time where we have the capacity to do just that. Look at America’s Tea Party phenomenon, which is altering congressional races in the upcoming November mid-term elections. For God’s sake, this movement has the distinct potential to elect candidates that believe evolution is a myth and that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racism. But as much as I can moan about their stupidity, they are doing exactly what we, the acquiescent youth, aren’t. They are enacting change by getting out on the streets and having their voices heard.
Now politicians have to heed their calls, because it is political suicide if they don’t. Just look at Delaware and New York where Tea Party candidates have beaten the Republican establishment. Meanwhile, we sit around in university dorm rooms crying about how we long for the days when the young could change things.
Just two years ago, it appeared Barack Obama had excited youth activity. He undoubtedly instilled in them a hope for change; however, only 48.5% of Americans 18-25 actually voted in that election. That is beyond excusable – that is willful complacency. How can we expect a youth revolution if under half of us (in this case Americans) can’t even be bothered ticking an election form?
I fear the truth is that we are simply a lazy generation. Our world is spoon fed to us. I am at fault just as much as anyone else. I, too, wish that there were a greater cause that I really cared about. A cause I’d be willing to march for. A cause that makes me want to hand out leaflets in my free time. But the thing is, I don’t. There are issues that upset me that I’ll defend vehemently, but there’s nothing that compels me to go out onto the streets. I feel awful admitting it, but it’s the truth.
Of course there are certain groups and individuals that do great things for change in the world. One merely needs to walk down Market Street to see that immediately. However, the realist in me (some may also deem it the pessimist) must admit that this is not what is going to truly force major change. A person handing out Amnesty International cards can do much good, but it is hardly going to oblige politicians to cater to our generation’s desires.
Until that day comes when someone can excite our imagination and lead a youth movement, I fear we will continue to lament our lack of youthful energy in silence. And go and log back onto Facebook.