It has always been that the old despise the young. I have no doubt about that. Those with age and maturity seem to think, sometimes seem to demand, that those who lack age and maturity owe it to them to listen and obey the ways of the aged and more experienced.
What has not always been is a culture in which the young not only have access to all the information the aged think is their exclusive domain, but their experiences are completely different than the experiences of those who have gone before because the generation now reaching maturity has:
- Never had the experience of being a prosperous American (they are saddled with education debt and too many of them cannot find jobs commensurate with their education)
- At the same time they live in a society where our definition of poverty is 31X (yes, I did actually mean to write “31 times”) above the global definition of poverty.
- Never lived without computers, never had to survive with out gadgets, have no idea the challenges endured by those who lived before the computer age.
A lot of comments have been made about the mean age of Congress, and it’s not just Congress that tends to be populated by old white men. Our national government continues to be disproportionately representative of that population. Laws have been made over the life of this country making it harder for women, majorities and the young to effectively make their voices heard but that is gradually changing.
All of which is why I love this graphic.
The world will change. Old white men will not hold the majority of power forever. By ignoring the rise of a new electorate, the political powers that be are sealing their own fate. And those who can see the hidden monster (just perhaps) can’t wait until it does.
The rich, the really, really rich, may think that they are insulated from the demands of the poor and the so-called powerless, but French aristocracy thought the same before the French Revolution, Albanians and Poles and Czechs and Kashmiri’s thought the same before the Soviet Union collapsed. Before the Arab Spring people in the Middle East refused to believe that the world was changing too.
The thing is, you cannot stop knowledge. And when people realize how downtrodden they have been and get to that ignition point all the armored vehicles and all the tear gas or water cannons won’t keep them in the pre-defined boxes that society has kept them in.
The best hope for the world is not that governments wake up to the challenges of climate change. The best hope for the world is that the generation facing climate change will prevail over the old ways — however unruly that might be for corporate goals , or how violent it may be to those in seats of power and authority.
Just when that little girl will release the monster isn’t up to those who think they are strong. But they have a rude awakening awaiting them.