Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last few months, you’ve surely heard a lot about 16 year old Greta Thunberg. If you haven’t, young Greta has made it her mission to hold world leaders accountable for and mobilize all of us against climate change. She has inspired her generation to mobilize by staging climate change protests in the form of walk-outs. This is a 16 year old girl… on the Autism spectrum! I’m not calling her out or judging her. Quite the contrary. I applaud Greta. She is doing something that my generation never did.
For the last few weeks, I have been watching a lot of Left Tube (Leftist YouTube for those not in the know). Left Tube is home to some very inspiring Millennial minds. My favorites being Natalie Wynn (ContraPoints), Oliver Thorn (Philosophy Tube) and Harry Brewis (HBomberGuy). While Harry’s videos are mostly video game or pop culture related, he’s done some really good videos on socially relevant topics like climate change and dragging Flat Earthers (as they should be). Both Natalie and Oliver have offered up some truly incredible educational videos regarding the philosophy of social or political issues as well drawing much needed positive attention to Trans rights and culture as well as mental health.
Last year, a young man opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Rather than withdrawing from the world in fear and grief, the survivors rose up and mobilized to try to force the government to do something about gun violence in this country. Obviously, our government couldn’t possibly care less, but at least these kids have put in the effort.
Now, I look at my generation. What did we do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. My grandparents were part of the “Greatest Generation”… the generation that actually militarily fought against fascism and white nationalism (only to have a bunch of middle class Boomers, Xers and disaffected Millennials embrace these ideals in 21st century America). My parents were Baby Boomers. The Boomers mobilized and protested racial segregation, sexism and homophobia as well as striking the first blows in the fight against climate change. Generation X, the “Me” generation…MY generation have done NOTHING!
I was born in 1980, so I was a preteen and teenager in the 1990s. I often joke that there is no teen angst like 90s teen angst. In retrospect, what the hell were we stressing out about? Seriously? Standardized testing wasn’t a thing yet. The economy was pretty good so even kids like me who had to work through high school actually had money to burn. Social media didn’t exist so whatever bullying we had to endure could be left behind us at the end of the school day. Gas prices were low, so if you had a car, you could grab some friends and just cruise if you had nothing better to do. School shootings were so few and far between that I don’t think any of us even knew it was a thing until the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado… and that was at the ass end of the decade. And climate change? Well, we lived in world where our leaders still believed in science. We trusted scientists and knew they’d figure it out, so we didn’t worry too much.
Looking at all of that, you can see why my generation was so complacent. Why get your panties in a bunch if there’s no immediate danger? Yes, you had oddballs like me who were painfully aware and socially conscious. I guess kids today would say we were “woke”. We saw that there were real issues that needed to be addressed, but our concerns were largely dismissed by our elders. I see the same thing happening now. The difference is that now our elders are acting like children and the children are adults in the room.
I look at the youngsters of generations Y and Z fighting the battles that my generation should have fought and I feel like garbage. I feel like we let them down. When Columbine happened, we should have mobilized. Maybe, just maybe, Parkland and the myriad other mass shootings that happened between Columbine and the present wouldn’t have… or at least there could have been fewer. My generation was focused on animal rights. We should have been focused on climate change. Could we have stopped it? Not likely, but we could have made some real progress toward slowing it down.
When I was a teenager, I was a loud Leftist, feminist warrior witch. I got older and calmed down. I got older and moved more to the center. I thought it was a sign of maturity. Isn’t that what they say? You get more conservative as you get older? I figured that was what was happening. I calmed down and learned how to choose my battles. I was wrong. We all were wrong. We dropped the ball and now everyone is feeling the pain for it.
I want to say to anyone reading this who was born after 1990 that I am so very sorry for leaving you kids to shoulder these burdens. I know I’m just one person and I doubt many other of my generation would agree with me, but on behalf the ones who do, we are all sorry and we are proud of you for stepping up and doing what we didn’t feel we need to do. Keep fighting the good fight and know that you will have a lot of us fighting along side you.