With a Congress that is unable to work together, full of politicians that like to put their personal interests before the immediate needs of the people, do we have a right to be cynical in this day and age? As members of a young generation, we have much to lose and very little to gain from the politics of today. As disillusionment begins to set in, we find ourselves reminded of the successive past that has led us to where we are now. Amidst the discontentment and the outcry, the current events of today seem to contain strains of previous cultural movements. Among these, our own history-in-the-making clearly echoes the Lost Generation of the 20th century and the Vietnam War protests.
The lost generation moniker was originally given to a group of expatriate writers comprised of famous literary icons such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The term was broadened over time to include anyone who had lived through the First World War and had endured the Great Depression. These years saw cultural ethics violated and values sacrificed; fear and dissent were commonplace, as was the corruption and extravagance that enveloped the Roaring Twenties. Once the Great Depression began, hope became a luxury.
Today, many of these concerns have started to resurface in the wake of the recession. Because of the burgeoning foreign policies set in place over the last decade, the national debt continues to rise without any clear sight of a reduction in spending or an increase in revenue. This is actively hurting our generation’s chance at success and stability down the line. According to Business Insider, the current state of unemployment ravaging the country will continue to persist through the rest of the decade and will most likely take a decade to recover. With unemployment currently resting at a harrowing 9.1 percent, compared to the 8.9 percent found at the beginning of the Great Depression, the future looks very grim for the latest batch of college graduates. Many students will be forced to return home because of the current state of the economy.
It’s in this lack of foresight and attention that the other parallel found in our past begins to take form. Channeling the general public dissent of our deadlocked government, the Occupy movement that has swept the nation has its ties to the Vietnam War Protests of yesteryear. Having roots in the long established pacifist movements of the Quakers and Unitarians, the idea of a liberal peace movement began to plant itself in the minds of the American public as early as 1957. Although these movements were formed solely to petition against the misuse of nuclear weapons, their objectives evolved into an agenda to change American society as a whole. From these new goals, organizations such as the Student Peace Union began to gain footholds on college campuses and recieved attention in the public eye as the war waged on. As the conflict became intolerable at the beginning of the 1970s, the people united under the realization that the cost of the war was too much for the United States to bear.
In this reoccurrence of past events, it’s clear that we have not learned from our past mistakes as a nation. We have lost the drive to make change and to commit to the betterment of all, which only exacerbates the current problems our country faces. Keeping these missteps in mind, we must be more conscious of the ingrained issues of today. If we as a nation were able to utilize our political powers more effectively, then history might not have to repeat itself with our generation.