My generation does not care for itself. We lack real student leadership. Our campus is abound with ‘student leadership’ activities, but I am not sure that the ‘leadership’ that we students associate ourselves with most often is enough for our own future well-being as a generation.
I am not talking about the future in terms of the jobs we may get or the arts we hope to master. Instead I am talking about our well-being in our old age.
Too many of us are not involved in politics and since politics affect the future, our increasing distance from politics is making us lose out on our future benefits. This dismally low level of political involvement is the lack of our real student leadership that I talk of. Don’t get me wrong; some of our student leaders are wonderful. Indeed, it is great to see students take on the roles of leaders in our numerous on-campus organizations.
It is particularly rewarding to see them play the pivotal roles that most of our peers, and sometimes our politicians, foolishly don’t even seem to care about. Above all they exemplify how a very different group of people can coexist peacefully as humans.
But although working for such noble causes is highly commendable and must continue, they may not be enough for our own good when something that will directly affect our future is being ignored, namely our political involvement. More of us need to be leaders in the political arena because it is there where our chances are most drastically affected. Time passes by as politics happens and the prospects of our generation’s well-being seem dimmer as threats to our generation mount, and Generation X merely stands aside.
I draw your attention to Alan Greenspan’s recent testimony to the U.S. Congress in his capacity as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. In case you missed it, he proposed cutting down, of all things, Social Security for our generation to deal with the growing budget deficits.
Let me also point out the billions of dollars that go every year into wasteful government spending, even as college fees soar and students’ debts increase at an ever-alarming rate. It is all a result of our generation’s indifference to politics. Ask any political science professor and you will find that our relative apathy toward politics has left the politicians thinking that we just don’t care about many things that are important to us.
As a result, they fail to fully address the youth’s concerns in their actions. Why else would the education industry not be at the center of our nation’s policies, even when we know that only it will provide the best answers to society’s problems? Why else would a threat rise to our Social Security benefits? Why would people our age constitute the majority of the work force that is not covered by health care? Why would we be forced to pay more and more fees every single quarter, even as the number of students entering college grows?
You can probably think of some other dilemmas on your own, looking at current events. It seems obvious that the majority of the politicians don’t care enough about you and me to pay much attention to issues that we think are important. Many scholars constantly point this out. And taking a look at the news makes it all too clear.
Public education is down the gutters. And global warming and the environment, two issues that our generation deeply cares about, continue to worsen with little legislative action to curb the problems. The last time our government did something major about the environment was decades ago during the Nixon administration! Indeed, my friends in CALPIRG have been busy on campus trying to get us to send letters to our representatives or to pledge $5 to ‘save the environment.’ Our personal debts have soared to record levels and they will continue to rise if the current situation continues to persist.
And now a recommendation to slash the extent of Social Security protection is upon us, especially when Social Security already does not look good for us. That is shocking! In fact it is such action (or inaction) of our politicians that has forced us students to join campus organizations to look out for what we care about, but even that is not sufficient due to the relatively small amount of money that student organizations have to spend in their causes.
The lack of student leadership I allude to is the lack of our generation’s leadership. I concede that given current societal circumstances and the resulting intricacies of our lives, it is not our fault that we are trying to solve our daily problems and not giving much time and attention to politics.
But if more of us don’t care then our generation will not be a squeaky wheel that gets the grease.
That is not to say that some of us aren’t involved