I wrote the following journal for a Theory of Knowledge end-of-the-year class assignment, to which my teacher suggested I turn into an article for The Millennial Times. Because of the length, I decided to separate it into three different articles based on the topic. So, lots of edits and adjustments later, here’s 2016: Part II. To read the first part, click here.
We began The Millennial Times about three months ago. We started without really realizing what kind of impact we would have and what kind of impact we could have, especially as the up and coming generation begins to replace Gen X as leaders and humanitarians of the world. As a millennial, I believe I have a great deal of responsibilities, including but not limited to not screwing up and changing the world. Like I said previously, our society revolves around money. Previous generations have certainly broken the world, whether that pertains to the environment, finances, or population. Without a doubt, I reject the American ideologies of democracy, capitalism, and consumption. However, that doesn’t mean I have to choose between changing the world inside myself and living sustainably and trying to redesign the world. In my humble opinion, change begins within you, commencing with education. Once you’ve achieved that, you can move on to others around you until that change becomes a ripple effect that ends up changing the very work structure of efficiency.
American “culture” is unsustainable and it is unfit for this planet. It teaches people to be selfish, disgusting in terms of what food we eat and where we leave our trash, and ignorant in terms of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry using the excuse of “freedom of speech”, and the idea that all of that is completely okay. We pick and choose what we want to preach and what we want to prevent, whether that’s the Amendments/Constitution with gun control or allowing the President of the United States of America to nominate an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States of America or various religions and their Holy Books. Our carbon footprint is larger than that of any country – we consume enough resources to fit on four Earths, three more than we actually have.
America is behind in political, environmental, and societal progress and we must catch up to the rest of the world, because very, very soon, the excuse of “’Merica” and “freedom” and “bald eagles” is no longer going to work, especially with so many countries now right on the brink of war. We target the wrong things and disregard the right choices; for example, instead of attacking poverty, we try and attack terrorism (I say try because I don’t think carpet bombing an entire country or allowing a country to imprison thousands while allowing politicians to debate on live television as to who supports aforementioned country more is a strategy at all.), and in turn, increase the attacks and the anger in that general region. Governors choose to sign anti-gay rights bills into law every day, targeting those who may identify as transgender or as gay and justify them with “religious freedom laws”, yet in turn, announce to the world that the solution to all of our problems is banning Muslims and patrolling their neighborhoods (Muslim neighborhoods don’t exist by the way; we are in fact, integrated into society). Politicians and political ads attack the uninformed voters and trick them into believing what will get them (the politicians) the most money is the best for the voters themselves, while in reality, all signing fracking bills into existence does is gives natural gas companies the right to fill our water sources with gas, the right to turn their heads away when our water catches on fire. We don’t think through what we say and do, and we spend money on the wrong things, instead of giving our undivided attention to our future, whether that’s through the youth or through the environment. There are so many things wrong with this entire country and nothing seems to be going right, yet we still sit around and allow people to argue against what we actually want on our behalf and get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nice. I’m so proud. ‘Merica.
There are a lot of things I’ve learned about people and how they think. I still hold steadfast to the belief that humans are innately good, because if I let myself believe for even one second that they’re not, I think my entire infrastructure built on happiness and optimism will come crumbling down, so maybe not today. I never thought much of the phrase “ignorance is bliss” until I myself started paying attention to the world around me. Once I started reading the news, I couldn’t stop. Once I started learning about the countries in Africa, I had to learn about the countries in South America and Asia. I couldn’t ever go back to a “blissful ignorance” having learned the things I read and knowing the things that I saw. I think that’s the hardest part of pursuing knowledge: the burden of knowledge itself. The world may, at some point in the future, become 100% literate in that they can read and write, though the extent of true literacy is quite questionable. Even education is becoming malleable, and people are beginning to interpret it in any way they want. For example, the millennial generation depends a lot on technology and social media, and a lot of people receive their news via social media, a.k.a other people. Now we all know that people are not the most reliable or trustworthy, so entrusting the future of our world to people who think there’s nothing outside the borders of America is extremely dangerous. I might believe people are innately good but I definitely do not trust them, and I don’t think I ever could, based on reactions to the 2016 Presidential election.
In that manner, I think it’s better to throw stones at the building from the outside. I guess you could say that working from the inside is much more sneaky and sly, but my dad always tells me to become a politician you have to submit to corruption. How can you prevent corruption when you yourself represent the very symbol of it? One pebble might not do the trick, but if you have a lot people throwing a lot of large stones at a wall, you might just end up toppling it. Using a Game of Thrones reference, the Free Folk waged war on the Night’s Watch on the wall, and they nearly won. They used everything they had, and they made an impact. The Night’s Watch learned of their power, and they heard their bloodthirsty cries. In turn, Jon Snow tried to accommodate and help the Wildlings, but ended up dying for standing up for what he believed in. Though it’s fiction, I think it’s a great metaphor for the American political system and the power the people have against the establishment. One of the videos my TOK teacher showed us this year was a video about octopi and the experiments scientists do with them. The video focused on how these sea creatures are so incredibly intelligent in that they never fail to find their way to their goal no matter the circumstance or obstacle. Keeping in line with my optimism for the human species, I genuinely think this applies to us, too. This circumstance might be longer than normal and/or expected and the obstacles that stand in our own way are of our own doing, like climate change, but we’ll get there. I believe it. If there’s one thing Americans are great at, it’s reaching our goal. Whether it’s the American Revolution, the Civil War, or the civil rights movement, we’ve reached progress much more quickly that many MDCs around the globe. On a timeline, we’ve been relatively ahead of our time. Our country has been around for 200 years, while most of Europe is just now reaching the 5th stage of the demographic transition along with immense but very slow governmental progress after hundreds and hundreds of years. I believe the suffering that we are all inevitably face throughout our lives are tests from something greater to see if we are truly deserving of the greatness we may one day achieve. This test is 100% passable, but will only result in happiness when we put aside our differences and come together as one group, one nation, one world — and we’re getting there.
Thakur is the creator of The Millennial Times.