I found myself at work last week discussing the big social and political issues with a colleague. Both millennials, we found ourselves remarking at just how different today’s youngest and eldest generations are morally, socially, and politically. The most obvious difference between my generation and my grandparents’ generation is how the ubiquity of technology has impacted daily life. We now live in an information age where entertainment, learning, knowledge, and (maybe eventually) wisdom can be garnered at the tap of a button. Our senior citizens never had access to this. But it’s not the difference of technological availability I want to discuss today. What I want to talk about is how my generation looks at the big social and political issues and how vastly different our opinions on contemporary issues are compared to the older folk.
I cannot imagine the world we would live in if all our politicians were millennials and we were in charge of calling the shots. It’s obvious that millennials aren’t adequately represented in parliament anywhere in the world. But how exactly would we do things differently?
In no particular order, I’m going to run through a few different “issues” and begin by stating what I think is the older generation’s more conservative approach and then juxtapose this with what I believe to be the millennial’s solution. I’ll then explain for each topic why we should adopt the latter ideology. Note that obviously my opinion and the opinion of other individual millennials will certainly differ in many ways but I’m going to do my best to depict what I feel are the thoughts of my generation from my perspective. If you are a millennial who feels as though I’ve gravely misrepresented you, I encourage you to let me know by commenting below.
1. The War on Drugs
This is probably the most obvious one to begin with. It’s a really simple solution too. The baby boomers have for decades demonised drug use and drug users. They’ve placed a blanket over all illicit substances and think they’re all bad news. Now it’s obvious to many that recreational cannabis use is a very different thing to a heroine addiction. But for some reason we’re still seeing mass incarceration for minor pot offences in the US. We’re still seeing the DEA breaking doors down, raiding the homes of harmless civilians but also legal cannabis dispensaries. This is woeful behaviour and a gross misuse of tax payer dollars.
The solution? Us millennials, I would submit, suggest the least we could do is decriminalise the use of certain substances (i.e. cannabis). I don’t want to go into too much depth regarding the pragmatics of doing so in this article, but the pros significantly outweigh the cons and just a small amount of research should make this very clear to just about anyone.
Personally, I’d go not one step further, but several. Not only should we decriminalise pot, but we should legalise it, regulate it, and tax it. And not just pot either, but all recreational drugs. Instead of giving up on people and just throwing the junkies in jail, we ought to educate people about safe drug use and offer help to those battling addiction. I passionately believe that the use of psychedelics and the ability to enter altered states of consciousness is a birthright that has been outlawed for far too long.
You only have to take one glance at the afterglow of Portugal’s radical changes to their drug laws in 2001 to know that global decriminalisation is the obvious next step in the drug debate. We should follow suit but I fear it will take much longer than it needs to.
2. Climate Change
Living in a capitalist society, the issue of global warming is avoided like the plague. There’s no money in it. In fact, it’s something that if dealt with adequately will net a loss for a lot of powerful aristocrats the world over. I think there are philosophical issues that we need to understand surrounding not just the ethics but also the metaphysics that apply to this debate. My article discussing the lack of urgency surrounding global warming goes into greater depth.
It’s obvious that we cannot keep destroying the planet at the current rate. Logically, something will need to be done about this sooner or later. Logically, it would be best to do something now before the problem escalates. We can look at it like a cancer – something much easier to treat and deal with if action is taken early. We’ve diagnosed the problem, so why are we waiting to do anything about it? I attempt to answer this question in the article linked above.
Millennials want immediate action. The same passion for the environment simply cannot be found in baby boomers – at least not in those who have any political influence.
Thankfully, racism is no where near as bad today as it was a hundred years ago. But it still exists and is still one of the biggest social issues we face. In today’s society, we mostly see covert racism – passively masking racist comments in a joking manner. While it’s true we’re no longer burning black people at the stake, the animosity is still very much alive in the Silent Generation, baby boomers, and Gen X.
The issue is largely one of toleration. What should we tolerate? Are passively racist remarks okay? Do we tolerate them or should we condemn their use? Is attempting to ignore racial difference actually going to create racial indifference?
Maybe the cure to racism is simply time. If we drench the world in liberalism and let it simmer long enough, maybe racism will continue to decline and perhaps eventually it’ll fade away entirely. Or is there a more effective, hard and fast method we could implement?
The older and more conservative generations seem to respond to this issue with a propensity for racist tendencies… While the younger liberal apologist generation often risk lapsing into regressive leftism which essentially just stifles the discussion…
I literally have no idea what the solution for this “global jihadist insurgency” is but I feel as though neither the far left nor far right will come up with the answer. I don’t think this is a political issue as much as it is an ideological issue. I suspect the Quilliam Foundation will be far more likely to come up with a viable solution before the far left/right does.
5. Gay Marriage
Another easy one. It’s the battle between the very religious conservatists preaching marriage sanctity and literally everyone else. As our society becomes less religious and more willing to incorporate newfound scientific information into public policy, we will see this issue dealt with. While the battle is still very much alive in many parts of the world, the philosophical war is over and the millennials have won. It’s now just a matter of patience as we wade through a sea of red tape.
Now there’s a hundred “issues” I could weigh in on but I think the above five are pretty controversial and contemporary topics that all seem to provoke quite polarising opinions from the various generations of today.
I’m always keen for a debate so as always, I encourage you to leave a comment if you’d like to voice your thoughts. If you have any questions or topics you’d like my two cents on, please also leave a comment!