Thursday, July 21, 2016

A short exercise in politics

I have a short political exercise, mostly for my generation, but if you're not a Gen-Y person, feel free to play along if you want to.

First, consider the candidate you support and give three reasons, with supporting evidence, as to why you support that candidate. You cannot use any reasoning that is 1) a statement simply that they aren't the other candidate, 2) is an ad-hominem attack, 3) a 30-second soundbite from a PAC or party, or 4) a statement either already proven false or is outside the powers of the presidency.

Now for the more difficult part. Take 30 minutes and stop talking. If you are a Clinton supporter, listen to what a Trump supporter has to say about why they support Mr. Trump. If you are a Trump supporter, then listen to what a Clinton supporter has to say about why they support Mrs. Clinton. Don't speak, don't interrupt, just listen carefully and critically. When you've heard them speak, take a moment to reflect on their point of view, think about their reasoning, then practice a bit of empathy and take a few moments to try to understand why they believe that.

I'll help you out here, if you listened to a Trump supporter and say racism, xenophobia, or any other %phobia as the first answer, then you failed. If you listened to a Clinton supporter and say it's because she promises free stuff, or because she's a woman, or because she's not Trump, you failed. Look deeper than that. We are, after all, supposed to be the most educated generation to come along, so let's use those skills, mmm'kay? Remember back to English 101, when we had to read novels and then write about how all that the stuff on the surface is a misdirection, and are only useful as a way to get into the deeper meanings? (This isn't a new concept, unless you really thought Romeo and Juliet was just a love story).

Can you do that? Do you know why you are choosing to vote why you are? Do you even know what your candidate has said and what they are going to do? If you can't come up with these, then you have a lot of work to do before the election.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Observations by an older millennial to younger millennials.

I've been reading a lot on facebook, twitter, and other news sites about some of the issues that people of my generation are having (I was born in 1980, right at what many sociologists claim is the very beginning of the "millennial" generation) and I've come to a few realizations:

1) We have reached the point that we expect everything right now, we expect we will get our way.
2) We have rejected the idea that opposing views will make us uncomfortable and will expose us to ideas that we disagree with intensely and this is a good thing.
3) We see things very differently than the previous generations, but seem to expect them to automatically accept our generation's viewpoints instead of discussing and working out our differences.
4) We have lost our resiliency when faced with hardships or hard work.
5) We are capable of immense creativity, but seem to demand everyone else value that creativity as much as we do.
6) We demand equality but only so long as it doesn't disagree too much with our point of view, freedom so long as it doesn't make us question what we've decided is the "right way" to do things, and opportunity so long as it doesn't require us to do anything to get it.

I've watched people in our generation wring their hands in online discussions and forums at how bad the discourse has become, without realizing that this is mostly our own creation. I hate to burst your safe-space bubble, but it's always been this way. You cry out that people don't show you respect for your opinions, but then turn around and demean other people's points of view. You cry out that people are disrespecting the president while ignoring that eight years ago, we called the president "shrub" and marched around with signs calling for his death (while he was in office, I might add), all the while our celebrities were chanting "F*ck Bush" and crudely dismissing him for all to hear. I've listened to my generation wail and gnash their teeth about the mess that the boomers have left us with their greed and corruption, but then go right ahead and elect the same parties that put us in this mess because "a vote for a third party is wasted" or "Voting for a third party is a vote for (and I'm not posting from people's statements on Twitter and Facebook because I can't anonymize those posts and sentiments enough to mask their identities). I've seen my generation demand counseling and special treatment because they had to share a dorm with sworn law enforcement officers that have come in to help provide security and safety for a major event. With actions and statements like these, is it any wonder why previous generations view us as the most conceited, most selfish, and laziest generation to have come along? 

We have a lot of good ideas that we can give, a lot of new concepts that we have to vet and prove are good, and we have a lot of work to do towards correcting the situation we are in , regardless of how we got here. Sure, the housing market imploded because the boomers lost touch with how the world works. We have a safety net that is tearing itself apart because a generation didn't bother to think about how to make it sustainable for the next generation. Whining about how it's not fair doesn't fix the problem, fixing the system does. That means we have to go out there and get involved, and not just as demonstrators, not just as sign-waving supporters, but as the actual candidates.

And please, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, stop with this "I'm a special and unique snowflake" crap that seems to have infected us to the point that a name in chalk is cause for fears for safety and years of therapy. We need to get over ourselves, and stop with the generational pity party. The world doesn't give a fart in the wind that our feelings were hurt. Start learning resilience, learn to bend and then come back stronger. Learn to listen, learn to judge everything critically no matter who tells us. We also need to learn that sometimes we need to follow along with the old ways for a while until we can gain the trust we need to make the changes, work a low paying job to figure out how to adapt, and actually realize that people that disagree with us aren't saying we're worthless, just wrong in their opinion. Don't complain, explain. Use that Master's Degree in English Lit to make your case, and prove why you're right. Back up your case with fact and evidence and citations (notice all those shortcuts up there?). Society will not change just because we want it to, we have to actively work to make that change happen, and we have to do it in a way that creates allies instead of enemies, because throwing an epic tantrum and hissyfit aren't making us any friends here.