Trust Young Americans?

Posted on September 6, 2014 by

There seems to be consensus among my peers that the world is coming apart at the seams.

Events in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Ferguson and elsewhere are shaping the impression that events are more out of control than ever. Add global warning, the Ebola virus, wealth inequality and the possible takeover by Republicans of the U.S. Senate and you could conclude that things have never been worse.

I can’t tell whether this is true or not. While war, impending environmental catastrophe and political upheaval appear to be at a high pitch, is this worse than the rise of fascism in the ’30s,  World War II, racial segregation, the Cold War, McCarthyism, Vietnam or Bush / Cheney?

Conflict and chaos are always around us and – some might argue – inside all of us, as well. Could it be that our sense of proportion is being distorted by our immediate access to – and our intimate relationship with – what we now call “news”? The frustrations and disappointments of the “Obama Era” add to the despair.

Is there an antidote to this daily relentless news narrative and sense of hopelessness?

One way to see a future that doesn’t look so grim is to focus on young Americans of all races, origins, sexual preferences and class distinctions.

Don’t ignore or discount the failures in our education system, our appalling incarceration rate, the terrible job market or the pervasive inequalities in our economy. But recognize the attributes of the the next generation and trust in their compassion, humanity, tolerance and intelligence to create a future of their own.

Obviously, tackling climate change, economic injustice and genocidal war requires more than just a generation of nice people.

But feel good about our progress as a nation and appreciate the Obama Era as a transformative period in a new America.

Comments (2)


  1. Lenny Potash says:

    I always think it’s dangerous and not very productive to compare times in general, looking at a multitude of issues and challenges all over the world and here. Wow! As long as I can remember from the 40s on, during any given period, there have always been scary, and terrible times when socially/politically conscious people and activists have felt that these are the worst of times. And, during those same periods there has been hope, militancy, progress and victories.
    If you want to compare apples to apples, say for example, MLK’s “State of the Dream”, we would probably agree that much has changed for the better since 1964 while the economic well being and incarceration of Blacks in the U.S. has either gotten worse or remained stagnant. And looking at voter rights, we’re definitely on the defensive.
    But if we look at the state of our environment, it’s been a pretty steady downhill trajectory for us in the U.S. and the world. Too many of us are still giving climate warming lip service without understanding the profound effect this will have on our children if not, more immediately, on our near term future. And it’s totally bound up with our use of fossil fuels in order to keep our economic system growing and profitable. Now there’s a challenge for us progressive activists. Look up and the People’s Climate March.

  2. Tom Mackell, Jr. says:

    When you live in the midst of the chaos it is difficult to gain a historical perspective . Events sometimes cloud our ability to think clearly and focus on the here and now so that we can overcome some of the adversity as we struggle to find the ” new world order.” But , find it we must , and engage the younger generation to accept the challenges and be willing to cry out and move the agenda.
    Struggle is the elixir of life and we must embrace the struggle and overcome it’s powerful grip on our psyches.
    Life is what you make it and we all have a duty and responsibility to climb on the tiger and ride it. Failure is not an option. Stay focused my friends!

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