Can Generation Z Save Us?
The Parkland, Florida, high school activists are outspoken in their accusations that adults have f—ed things up, leaving it to them—they use the word “children,” to clean up the mess. They’re generating more movement on gun control than grownups thought possible in the face of the NRA’s influence on how its five million members vote. The NRA spent about $57 million in campaigns in 2016. Youth in our area are stepping up to the plate, organizing local marches in concert with national events. We can join them in the March for Life next Saturday, 11 am, starting in the Chico plaza. The high school speakers are guaranteed to be smart, articulate, and well-informed.
Why are they so brave? After researching global youth activism for over a decade, reported on in various books, I learned that they’re the best-educated generation in global history. They know how to think for themselves and know how to access information. The widespread use of cellphones with cameras expands access to information and makes it difficult to hide abuses. This generation is better informed about global problems and those who are responsible for them. Motivated by a sense of justice and human rights, young activists draw strength and information from international support groups on social media. Many have Internet “friends” from around the world. Young people grew up identifying with rebelious heroes in Disney movies like the Lion King and best-selling books like those about Harry Potter and Hermione Granger who cleverly challenge the powerful bad guys. Do you agree that most children’s cartoons include nonconformists and often aggressive characters or at least problem solvers like Dora the Explorer or Doc McStuffins?
It’s obvious that youth are our future, but few adults respect young people enough to find out where we’re headed under their leadership, as discussed in my book Ageism in Youth Studies. What makes young people today different from older generations–in addition to their comfort with diversity in gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age–is their courage, education, and access to the Internet. Hopefully they will be able to clean up our messes.