Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today's Youth: Fighting for a Voice to Save Tomorrow

Yes, as they say, children are the future. And as the younger generation slowly marches toward adulthood, the tides and traditions of the world are being reinvented. Attitudes and values are changing, and not always for the worse, as the Leave it to Beaver generation would have you believe. Yes, today's youth seem to be a little more disrespectful, a little more hedonistic, and seem to walk about with an air of entitlement. However, today's youth also seem to be less discriminatory, less judgmental, and less ignorant than our archaic predecessors. And, in those fleeting moments when they set down their cell phones and iPods, they have in their hands the fate of our world. It may prove to be a promising fate, but do they have the time to fulfill it?

We've all been there, shaking our heads in those frustrating daily moments when you've run into some hormone-driven youngster who's done something annoying or atrocious, attesting to what we believe is the downward spiral of society as we know it. They may shoot out in front of your car on their skateboards, or curse loudly in the store next to the elderly and young children, or you may see a girl too young to wear make-up with an 8-month old belly protruding from beneath her shirt. Whatever it is, we find ourselves wondering what the world will be like when they're old enough to vote, old enough to know better but perhaps never growing old enough to care.

But on the other hand, with the unprecedented exposure to information, opinions, and the outside world in general thanks to the internet, tomorrow's leaders have been groomed to be less capricious in their world views. Kids today seem to be more anti-extremism, whether it be political or religious. They shy away from far right or left wingers, they care not for the religions of last century that breed hatred or demand unquestioning unwaivering devotion. They seem wiser about war, and the reasons (or lack, thereof) for pursuing it and are more invested in the suffering of those in places far removed from themselves. They seem to be less hateful and more open-minded about their peers and people in general who are different.

The generational gap is expanding and people are polarizing. As the older generation seems to hold tighter to the wisdom of past generations and deeply rooted old-fashioned values, the younger generation seems to be rebelling by taking a more relaxed approach to significant issues today. While the older generation is burning holy books and protesting soldiers' funerals, the younger generation is joining in conversations about diversity and tolerance. While the older generation is still trying to justify this war, the younger generation knew it was a ruse all along. And while the older generation is trying to speak over them, the younger generation is finding their voices. But who's listening?

Despite the heavily utilized cliche of children being the future, far too many people ultimately ignore, brush aside, or shush the younger generation, rebuffing their opinions and thoughts as the nonsensical rantings of emotional naive children. Now granted I'm 26 years old, and depending on your personal opinion, caught in between the two groups; too old to be considered a "youth", too young to be considered wise enough to matter. However, in a recent heated debate with an "oldie", I was informed that I was young, inexperienced, and ignorant of the world and therefore my opinion was of virtually no consequence. So, I think it only fair that I categorize myself with the younger generation. And I can only imagine how many like me have had similar experiences.

But as we're being swatted aside like some gnat who's made a nuisance of itself, the oldies, self-proclaimed omniscient leaders of today are driving our world to ruin. Greedy, wayward politicians and fat cats have single-handedly sunk the world's economy. Hypocritical religious leaders incite moral contention upon so-called sinners and opposing faiths while protecting their own ravenous wolves. War mongers driven by anger, power, and blighted eyes kill innocent people without remorse. We see it all for what it is, we see the sorrowful state of things, and yet we are gagged by ageism and our hands are bound as we stand on the sidelines and watch our future go down in a fiery inferno.

The oldies refuse to listen. They refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming simplicity of our proposed solutions just because they're ours. And yet, they will, as people do, die one day, and all the decisions they made, the disjointed paths they followed will leave the world in such disarray, and we will inherit it. Like a sack of manure thrust into our hands, the mess will be ours, but we were never given the chance to prevent it. Why are we good enough to clean it up, but not good enough to stop it before it worsens?

So, though our generation and the ones after us have their faults, we have some fantastic strengths as well, and it seems promising that the gifts in our hearts will surpass the bad habits we've collected along the way. And just in case you were wondering, here's our answer: Enough is enough. You have enough money, you have enough land. You've had enough anger, you've had enough hatred. We need more compassion, we need more altruism, we need more understanding and more love. And above all, nothing, absolutely nothing, be it religion, emotions, values, or aspirations should supersede your sense of humanity. If this solution seems too simple, it's only because you are making the problem too complicated.

Are you listening yet?

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