Call me boring or old-fashioned, but I have always been under the impression that our generation is supposed to use the example of the one which preceded ours, and learn from their mistakes, improve on the visions they had, and also set a benchmark to be followed by the generation that will succeed ours. Are we not supposed to set an example for the next generation to be leaders so they can also equip the one after theirs with knowledge, or, am I just being old fashioned in my ways and a tad boring? No matter where you go in the world, the legacies of the revolutionaries who came before us are still alive – through literature, murals, biopics, songs, graffiti, you name it – there is no denying that the ideals of long ago still have an impact on people many years later. The likes of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Anne Braden, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Dorothy Tilly, Alice Norwood Spearman Wright, Steve Biko and many others, lived long before many of our generation were born, but their legacies have outlived them. These are men and women who were willing to risk their lives all in the name of equality and change and we owe them a lot for the example they left us. Regardless of whatever race, colour or creed we may be, there is no denying that they stood for meaningful ideals which were intended to unify nations, and chose to sacrifice their lives so that the sufferings they went through would not be faced by the next generation. We probably haven’t faced hardships and injustice in the same scale as they did so does that mean we therefore have nothing to fight against so we are entitled to carry on with our lives and allow the torch they passed on to us to be quenched? At this point I would like to point out that I am not talking about a racial issue here – colour has very little to do with the point I am trying to make as there were many white people who were involved in civil rights movements like Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, and were inspired by Che Guevara etc and chose to fight oppression. So what is wrong with our generation?
Could it be that because we did not see or experience the sufferings of the generation that preceded us, we have become so comfortable with life that we feel the current state of the world will suffice? Oppression caused the oppressed to rise up and fight, so could that be where the issue lies? I am not saying that everyone was born to be a revolutionary. What I am saying is that not everyone in the generation before ours was a revolutionary like Guevara but they still played a role in championing a change regardless of the role. Is a water-boy in a sports team to be disregarded because he isn’t directly on the playing field with the players? Certainly not! So why is our generation the way it is? Has the comfort of life desensitised us to the social, moral and cultural ills of the world? Everywhere you look, be it on social media or just walking down the road, it’s plain to see what our generation’s priorities are. We are more concerned about getting ‘turnt up’ and ‘wavey’ and ‘swag’. We are more concerned about keeping up with the Kardashians and their celebrity chums and what they are wearing. We are more concerned about what the latest football transfer is. We are more concerned about how many people follow our pages on social media. We are more concerned about what the next episode of our favourite television series has in store. We are more concerned about ensuring that our next pair of shoes are designer (to add to our already handsome collection). We are more concerned about what is occurring in the lives of the rich and famous. We are more concerned about who ‘twerks’ better than who. We are more concerned about being flashy and flaunting our material possessions – the shoes, cars, money, jewellery, homes etc. Why are we so concerned about these things when someone out there in our world is facing some sort of injustice, hasn’t got a roof over their head, food to eat, good sanitation, clean water to drink, clothes to wear and even a decent standard of education? What is wrong with this generation?
I saw the above picture on the internet and it made me giggle and had me thinking. I have nothing against people enjoying their lives, however what I am saying is that it looks like these things have become the focus of our attention. There is a saying that goes “only a fool thinks he can solve the world’s problems”, which to some degree is true I suppose. So what if we became a million fools, or even a billion, who will stand up and say “I want to make a difference!”? I believe there would not be a single child in this world who goes to sleep on an empty stomach and cannot afford to go to school. Personally I refuse to believe that it is beyond society’s ability and reach to change the world. The problem is this – we as individuals feel it isn’t our reponsibility, but that of the world governments and authorised bodies to tackle the world’s issues and be concerned for humanity’s wellbeing. This is where I believe we as human beings have made the greatest mistake. It isn’t that the world is poor and beyond repair – we are just not concerned about those who need aid in this world. Those whom we concern ourselves about are the rich and famous – you know, the Kim Kardashians, Beyonces, Rihannas etc who are living lavish and offer us nothing more than mere entertainment. We are so concerned about their lives and what they get up to, what they’re wearing and who they’re dating, so much so that we have lost touch with life’s real issues. Yet I question whether these celebrities actually care about the blinded millions who fund their lavish lifestyles. The millions who work hard daily and barely make ends meet but still contribute towards making them richer by buying their music, films etc but get nothing back for their unwavering allegiance.What is wrong with this generation?
The system has been designed to keep the masses ignorant regarding the things that REALLY matter and it’s a sad reality that the majority of society have fallen victim to the system and have allowed themselves to become morally, socially and culturally ignorant. Remember, educated people are far more difficult to manipulate than entertained people (and I do not necessarily mean academically educated). Think about it – how many people around the world knew of the whole Solange Knowles and Jay Z elevator kerfuffle? Millions right? It was the talk of the week and news feeds on social media were blowing up because of this incident. Now compare that number to the people who knew that around the same time of the whole Solange/Jay Z elevator incident, reports surfaced that between 40 to 59 children had their throats slit by Boko Haram on 25 February but the press did not cover this story as extensively as they did the 200 missing school girls. See what I mean?
It is so easy for us to shift the responsibility to world governments and sit back and wait for them to take action and tackle world poverty, injustice and what not, but here’s the problem though – it’s pretty clear that the governments do not care about the affairs of the poor. It has been stated countless times that the majority of government systems are designed so that the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, but I doubt society completely realise and understands the whole truth in this statement. How come there are billions that can be spent on World Cup tournaments to build stadiums and further enrich the already wealthy and comfortable sports stars and associated ministers, when there are people who cannot afford a meal nor do they have a home to live in? So what these governments are saying is that there IS money, but it’s only available when the interests of the rich will be preserved. Think Brazil 2014, South Africa 2010 and London 2012.
Why are we a generation of armchair activists who would rather shout “change!” from the comfort of our homes and keep a safe distance as we wouldn’t want to compromise our own lives for the sake of others? So what about the millions of people before us who gave up everything – their careers, livelihoods, families and even their lives for the sake of the next generation (that’s you and I) who they probably would never meet? Are we not to take their bravery and selflessness as an example? Is it not our concern what goes in the world? As long as we have a family, a good job and career, a nice car and a nice house, then whatever happens out there in the world is the government’s business. Are we a generation of cowards of have the times simply changed? It seems to me that comfort has indeed caused us to be blinded of the issues that concern us all. Our generation wants to be entertained, and not educated and I am not necessarily talking about academic education here. I mean educated on the way the world system works.
I was left rather challenged, motivated and inspired when I found out that revolutionaries like Thomas Sankara, Che Guevara and Martin Luther King had already begun world-changing movements in their late 20s, which is just a few years older than I am now. These gentlemen died before they were 40 in selfless acts for the next generation, and it is sad to see that there are so many of us around the same age as them with a lot of potential and a wealth of knowledge but allow ourselves to be governed by the world’s system of being controlled followers and not leaders. The time has come for us to start living for a cause, not applause, and ensure that when our time comes we go out empty, having given everything within us for our fellow man. Perhaps there is yet hope for our generation.