As a young woman raised in the age of the internet I have experienced and grown at an exponential pace that could (narcissistically, of course) be compared to that of Moore’s Law, replacing the “number of components per integrated circuit” to the number of experiences and information that is crammed into my life from the mere act of existing in this time and in a developed economy. As a result, my cohort and I, as far as I have observed, strive to be more open minded, progressive, and aware of a diverse set of issues and causes. In short, we are called Millennials.
We are growing in a very unique time, one in which we can envision an astounding future of sci-fi proportions and envision an apocalyptic end, also of sci-fi proportions. This is a cusp in human existence in which each individual holds a key to our collective fate. Each of us can play a key role in inspiring thousands if not millions by simply talking into a miniscule receptor that then pushes those bytes out into the ether. You can never erase your mistakes, you can never underestimate your influence again. Privacy is an antiquated term when anything you share can be replicated, stored, plagiarized, hacked and when most people can’t afford four walls and a roof or housing that is not shared. Fortunately, this very issue with privacy, one that we relinquish every day and every time we share about ourselves we come closer together, we understand more, we fear less, and our compassion grows.
Our inheritance as Millennials is not just the global warming, not just the wars, not just the terrorism, not just the pervasive and persistent racism, our strongest inheritance is our interconnectivity. Technology has wrought us a gift whose ultimate benefit is knowledge and with knowledge comes progress. This is why one of the great hurdles is to bring this privilege to others, share it, use it for more than looking at cat pictures and avoid falling into the pit of isolation.
All I ask is that we learn from and about each other, that we keep our minds open and that we see that our greatest contribution is empowering the world to contribute with us. That means a hand up to the poor, to those who are trapped in cycles of disadvantage, to lending a ear to men and women who can only whisper out of fear, to seeing patterns and breaking them. A friend of mine asked me, “How can you convince people to think of others and not just themselves?” and to that I said that what most people don’t fully understand is that the highest level of selfishness is to give. All of our relationships are symbiotic in some way, even those that attempt to destroy us. All our experiences make us better, or stronger, or smarter and we live on. It is our compassion that allows us to grow despite hardships, it is compassion that allows us to love people not despite them hurting us, but because we understand that they are hurting, too. As Millennials it is our destiny to connect the world and to hope for a reality that takes after children’s fantasy not a dystopic piece.
Here is a poem I wrote on using privilege to aid others:
So lets discuss equality
And why treating all equally
Is not it.
Equality is about addressing
The fact some people live in fear,
Some people live their shame,
Some people live a nightmare,
And being told that “they can do it”
Is not enough.
You can’t just say “try harder, cause life is tough!”
What about systems, and structures and reinforced notions
That someone deserves to treat you like shit,
That if you complain they ask,
“Did you deserve to get hit?”
What about history, heritage, inherited iniquity?
The people we all need to stand up are
The ones who have gotten to stand up all along.
The leaders, the rulers, the respected, the strong.
The ones we look up to, the ones we look among
But there are no familiar faces
There are not enough of us.
And we don’t need a push up,
We need a hand up,
Not a hand out, not a pity chance,
But a team try to vilify
The things that are whispered of
The words that make some feel like traitors:
Disparity, racism, feminist
The never ending list
Of things that want to be reality
But end up bullets in our midst.
Note: None of this material is meant to generalize or simplify the hetero-cis-female-western experience, nor imply anything about individuals who identify differently than myself, simply it is an exposition on how I perceive and operate in the culture and setting I currently reside. I identify as female, cisgendered, an immigrant, person of color, privileged (educated in the U.S.) and still exponentially growing.
[Image: “Everything is Connected” protected by a Creative Commons license belonging to Richard P J Lambert]