Our generation is one of the most politically and civically engaged in all of history.
While this might sound hyperbolic, it’s true; we take part in more protests, go to more town hall meetings and forums and even vote at higher rates than any previous generation when they were our age.
I think that this sounds so surprising because it really isn’t talked about or celebrated by a lot of people. Whenever young people are talked about in the media or by older generations, it’s usually to tell us that we’re lazy, that we’re entitled, that we don’t know how to budget our money, we complain too much — the list goes on. I think that this constant tendency to put us down doesn’t paint an accurate picture of our generation, which really is a shame, as it doesn’t give us the credit that we deserve on this front.
Our general engagement with politics and the political sphere really does point to the future strength and prosperity of our society. It lends credence to the idea that, when the time comes where we have to take hold of the reigns of power, we will be able to put forward strong leaders, be they in politics, science, business or any other field, who are knowledgeable and passionate about the issues, that will be able to lead us through turmoil and into prosperity.
Some might say that’s fairly optimistic thinking, that strong societal leaders are less a product of society and more a result of the genetic lottery that simply chooses some to lead and others to be led. Looking back at history however, we can see that this clearly isn’t the case, at least not entirely.
For example, the brain drain caused by the devastation of World War II in countries like Britain and France shows the impact that national trauma can have on upcoming generations. A majority of the youth at this time either joined the war effort or were shuttled out to safer countries like Canada and the United States. This impacted the quality of the leadership from these countries in the decades that followed, showing the importance of youth engagement in the future success of any country.
This is why I am so optimistic about the upswing in youth political engagement we have seen today. The recent international climate strikes, the rising influence of young figures like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg on the international stage and all the local engagement with elections just goes to show that we as young people have responded to the adversity the world is facing in 2019 and are eager to correct our course.
This isn’t necessarily about agreeing on all issues, but for young people to be critically engaging with the world around us to a degree that has never been seen in our history is a really valuable trait, no matter what your personal beliefs are.
To have an affinity for things like politics, solving global issues and so on doesn’t come naturally, so for our generation to be so much more engaged with those topics than any generation before us shows that we are incredibly passionate, well educated and motivated to get things done, all of which bodes well for the future.
Whatever we do, we can’t slip back into what’s easy, just burying our heads in the sand because it’s too intimidating. We just have to make sure that this momentum continues, so we can be the change we want to see in the world.