Today’s Youth Have Something To Say About Their Future

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One of the most unique things about being young is that you sincerely have hope. Not only do you believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow, but you often trust that the folks that are responsible for your better tomorrow have prioritized its existence. Yet, generation after generation, it seems like we watch young folks realize that their caretakers have done everything but truly take care of them. They’ve lied; they’ve kept secrets; they’ve gained and protected their own access to power; they’ve even ignored reality and encouraged others to do the same, but what they haven’t done is truly ensure that the world will be a better place for those that come after them.

Whether or not something is definitely better is largely objective, but what seems to be less objective is the palpable dissatisfaction of young folks with the political and moral direction of this country.  They are less likely to vote than they have been in previous elections; they are more likely to be dissatisfied with President Biden’s overall performance as the leader of the free world; and they are completely rejecting the notion that they have to feel that way in silence.  

Within the last decade alone–we have collectively watched young folks be loud and unapologetic voices of reason in conversations surrounding common sense gun reform, access to reproductive healthcare, voting rights…etc. And that boisterousness has often been met with a certain kind of strategic and violent state sanctioned consequence. The challenges to legislative bodies’ misguided efforts to dismantle and outlaw DEI programs as seen above and the orchestrated pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses across the country are examples of just that—a plethora of young folk deciding to no longer be silently complicit in the destruction of their better tomorrows. Even as they are met with armed police forces, or incorrigible elected officials, intent on prioritizing themselves and ignoring the fact that the future cannot, and should not, belong to them. 

These young people are rejecting the notion that their voices only matter within the vacuum of voting and then trusting others to take care of them. Instead, they are valiantly demanding that politicians and leaders earn the right to be trusted. That the people asking for support prove that they’ll prioritize the needs of their constituents as opposed to their own needs or the needs of oppressive regimes.

This moment, and the ones that will follow, feel like a reckoning.

Regardless of where one stands on an issue as complex as climate change or an issue as simple as raising the minimum wage–young folks’ pure refusal of the acceptance of the status quo speaks to something monumental. Especially when so much of our current politics is structured to encourage, value, and uphold political loyalty. 

We need voices like theirs—voices that are less worried about respectability, and that are more worried about their better tomorrow.

Because their better tomorrow is what we should have been worried about in the first place.

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