For most undergraduates attending NC State, we were born between the years of 1998 to 2003. Since then, we have witnessed the post 9/11 security state in the U.S. Additionally, the effects of toxic hydro-carbon use has become more than apparent through obvious instances of climate change. All the while, we were a little too young to do anything to make a difference.
I believe this has had a lasting and detrimental effect on our generation. We were born into an era that normalizes being fearful and watchful of everyone around you, no matter what. We grew up learning about how we have irreversibly destroyed our planet but there's nothing we can do except not use plastic straws and recycle. We have been taught to practice drills for active shooters, to even expect it and be prepared to fight. The shock value for these horrific events is quickly losing its effect.
Meanwhile, every time there is a major storm, mass shooting or far right legislation, we are told by older generations that “this is an unprecedented event,” despite the fact that it seems to keep happening. I believe most 18-25 year-olds understand this very well, that we are not living in a once in a lifetime event series. This is the ‘normal’ our generation will be living and experiencing for the rest of our lives and it is not our fault.
Part of the reason so many people our age know what is going on around the world is because of social media use. It exposes a lot of injustice and creates a space where people are held accountable for their actions. It also means crises which are ultimately affected by lack of enforceable legislation are more likely to be seen and talked about.
The existence of perpetual fearmongering that occurred in our developmental years was due to U.S. big stick policy tactics, specifically within the Middle East. Because there is no counter to U.S. power in the world, U.S. policy is often pushed forward without much resistance. I believe it directly led to our society not being able to support the “community first” mentality. Instead, we are focused on individual incentive and protection. Because we cannot further the protection of our community, it is our generation that is harmed and forced to fend for ourselves while we are at the mercy of those stuck in a dated mindset.
Meanwhile, we were raised by a generation that told us that if we want to see change we have to make it happen. So many of us, like myself, are in college hoping to get an education that will one day help us change the situation we are in. Low and behold, it is not us average citizens who can do anything to change it. I have learned that we are at the mercy of large corporations who are the perpetrators behind our exponentially heating planet and lawmakers who are making compromises over people's lives.
We are all tired of those who are in positions of power sending their “thoughts and prayers” every time something preventable occurs and someone gets hurt. Frankly, our lives are not anyone’s to play around with. We are tired of being told that we are living in unprecedented times when most of what has happened in our lifetimes was entirely predictable, if not actually predicted by experts.
It’s important for all of us to understand that our generation and the ones after ours are not just floating through these “once in a lifetime occurrences” but are internalizing and remembering how those who hold positions of power act. We, students and the young professional generation, ask lawmakers and University administration alike that they do whatever it takes to protect us on a larger scale so we can in turn fix the problems that have been left for us to clean up.