Once upon a time there was a generation of young people, full of aspiration and hope that their lives would be better than the ones their parents and grandparents have had. Growing older, this generation then went into business, politics, sports and culture – just like all the others before. Houses grew larger, cars bigger, the regular overseas vacation became the most normal thing to do. Happy lives of plenty and peace, forever and ever. Unfortunately, for most young people today, such a life is about to become a tale of the past. Be it Los Indignados in Spain or Generation Zero in Aotearoa New Zealand: it’s the young generation that realizes how much there is to lose from bad decisions today, but also how much there is to gain from taking action to protect their future.
What has changed? Today’s young people might still dream and make plans, but – unlike previous generations – few will have it better than their parents. Not only because wages hardly rise, but also because most “secure” work places of the past are about to disappear. Formerly well established industries are slowly dying off, and new ones struggle to evolve. However, the difference goes much deeper than that. Free market capitalism itself, the system that we rely on and take for granted, has become weak and unreliable. Or is it us and our culture? On another front, where many of the “established” generation still refuse to “believe” in climate change and global warming, we, the young, know all too well that in the end it will be on us – and our children – to clean up the mess, to adapt and fight; for food and water, against floods, storms and droughts.
Considering all the inevitable changes and systemic adjustments that lie ahead, we find it surprising – if not very concerning indeed – that governments know no better than applying old formula to new equations. Or why is it that well-situated countries, such as New Zealand, put their bets on new streets, more cars and offshore oil drilling when a boost in green technologies and energetic self-sufficiency is what its people need? Why does it take so long for countries to abolish the outdated GDP and economic growth paradigm and start account for gross happiness instead? Clearly, generation zero has many questions, and a lot to do. No need to despair though. History shows that when the time is ripe, things change fast. And if not, well, hope dies last.
Picture credit: conorwithonen
As always, this time even more: comments welcome!