Yes, Paige, Yours is a Conscious Generation

In the ongoing battle against ingnorance in psuedo-liberal journalism, yet another 20-something is smashing her generation by proudly proclaiming her new-found understanding that,

“…my generation missed political action class. Perhaps it fell through the public school cracks somewhere… and the current state of our own country was never mentioned.”

Paige Doughty, a seemingly globe-trotting Master of Science candidate in Environmental Education with Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the guilty party this time. If it weren’t enough for elder activists to bash young people, Paige has taken it upon herself to carry the mantle. In her brutal assessment of her peers, she shares with a major lefty-news source that,

“The political action with which my generation is most familiar is point and click. It goes something like this: receive a barrage of “email alerts” in your inbox, follow the link to the pre-written letter to your congress person, enter your email address and click to send. Wash your hands after a hard day of work. You are a political activist and you didn’t even leave your house! This is a paltry excuse for action.”

Whenever I read these assessments, I have to think about where these opinions are being shared. In this case, the website is really popular among older radical-types – my own father-in-law put me onto the site several years ago. If Paige were reaming out her peers in a forum they actually read, like CampusActivism or even Freechild, I could readily appreciate a good, fair critical analysis. For instance, check out the Future 500 book. It is cheap, so young people can actually buy it, and it is accessible, being distributed all over the friggin’ place. And goodness knows that book was critical, providing not just a rant but actually using examples of what should happen to spark ideas for what can happen.

The other consideration that I always bring to the table to who is sharing their opinions. Paige, in her wisdom as an adult grad student from an upscale private New England college, take the liberty of reaming her entire generation. Perhap’s Paige’s peers disappointed her, and perhaps the perceptions of the people overseas whom she met disappointed her, but neither of those perspectives give Paige the right to dismiss an entire generation, despite her membership within that group. But that’s exactly what Paige does. That’s too bad, because by doing that she immediately dismisses anything constructive about “her generation” that may be valuable for the audience who actually reads – and believes – what she wrote.

She might have recognized the work of youth organizers in NYC, who formed some of the most powerful activist campaigns that city has ever seen while Paige’s friends may have been on the computer. Or she might have acknowledged Craig Kielburger, who was 12 when he founded the most-recognized global youth activist organization in the world – in 1995. Today he’s still leading the effort – at 23. That’s right around Paige’s age. She might have recognized the ages of the folks who founded TakingITGlobal, or the folks who founded Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES) in 1990, when they were 16 and 18. Oh, and there’s CommonAction.

Instead, Paige gives more fodder for the adultists and ephebiphobics among us. Despite what I will assume to be her best intentions, Doughty dismisses the power of young people today. Answering such a dismissive interview question recently, scholar Henry Giroux defended today’s so-called “apathetic” youth, saying,

“…there is an oppositional youth culture that is rarely given a lot of play in the dominant media and that is doing all kinds of engaged political work, extending from the movement for environmental justice to getting corporations out of the public schools.”

Paige, take some time to actually learn about the generation that you come from. Yours is the most civically engaged generation ever. Yours is the most proportionately generous generation ever. Yours may be the most powerful generation ever. Go to the Freechild website and learn about them. Read some good books about them. Go meet them. Then write a good article about them – because, as Walt Kelly once wrote, “We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us.”

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