If you are under 30 you can expect to live in a much different world by the time your kids are ready for college. The Earth's population will have just about doubled by then and climate change and the energy crisis will no longer be something you read about, but have to live with every day. If certain people and organizations get their way you will be under constant surveillance by the government and private security companies and will have lost many of your rights and civil liberties.
Most of you know this and sense that your parents are not doing what is necessary to protect your future so you can have the same opportunities they have enjoyed. Many of you are outraged – and you should be. How could the baby boomer generation take such advantage of our resources and leave nothing for you?
Before you decide to condemn everyone over 50 let's first take a look at what they did when they were your age. Coming into the 60's the US had some serious civil rights problems, and we had almost no awareness of how our lifestyles might harm the environment. By the mid-60's the US was fully engaged in a bloody civil war being cooked in Vietnam and Cambodia. The baby boomers were outraged. They took to the streets and began a series of mostly peaceful protests that got the attention of the Establishment and Government. By the time these kids were in their 30's and having children of their own they had managed to initiate great social change that made our world a better place.
Women and minorities gained the same rights as everyone else and the environmental movement was born. By getting the attention of the media these young people managed to convince our society to pull out of Vietnam. Up until this time we had a draft and every young man could be taken by the military at any time. At the end of this social revolution the draft had been canceled and service in the military became strictly voluntary. The Baby Boomers made real progress in reducingression and injustice and opened up a whole new era of freedom and prosperity. The point here is that it was young people who were the ones who initiated these changes then, and it is the young people who will initial the changes now.
OK. That was then and this is now. These same revolutionaries have become older and less passionate – less willing to take risks. They have become comfortable and resistant to change. If you are expecting them to wake up and take to the streets again you are not being realistic – they simply no longer have the drive to take on the establishment the way they did when they were younger and more idealistic. They need leadership – and the only place they are going to find it is with you.
Whenever I get a chance to talk to young people about how they feel about what is going on they tell me that they are outraged. Then I ask why we are not all out in the streets in protest, most say; "We are out protesting, we just are doing it online".
The Internet makes it possible to connect with people from all over the world in a way that has never before been possible. Online is the place to organize and share information … but until you are able to get the attention of the media and the powers that be (we used to call them the Establishment) very little will change.
This is your time and you will inherit this world. It is up to you to make sure you're your parents and your government take notice and listen to you. If you do a good job of this then parents will wake-up and come to your aid. If you provide the leadership these former hippies and activists will follow. They are waiting for you to show them the way.
To begin with you need to organize events on the web that are large enough and powerful enough to get the attention of the media. For example you could organize a 24-hour forum with millions all over the world participating. If 10 million people are all logged on at the same time this becomes a newsworthy event. The forum could have targeted at a single issue like Climate Change or the War in Iraq. If 10 million people are all protesting the war or insisting on new solar energy power plants that is news.
I know that most of you do not think much of the media, but they are the channel though which you can reach the people that most need to hear your message. There are some really great reporters out there who do really care. Find out who they are and involve them in what you are doing. Send out press releases well in advance and invite the press to participate. I am sure that if some of you got together and thought about it you would be able to come up with a number of more creative newsworthy events that you can promote through the media. Get your parents involved if at all possible. Many of them have done this before. I bet they will have some ideas that even you have not thought of.
Secondly, you will need to take actions and create events that take place outside of cyberspace. Even though most of you are Internet savvy, many of the folks you need to reach are not. Beyond that people tend to respond much more to experiences that take place in the "real world". If 1 million teenagers marched on Washington to protest the war the media would be forced to cover it. If in every town and city in the country young people lined up outside the local power plants with signs saying we need Solar Power Now, the media would be forced to cover it. With the Internet you could organize a worldwide event that could not be ignored. Can you imagine the stir it would cause if 50 million young people from all over the world all laid down on the steps of local government offices to protest civil rights violations at the same time? The media and the general public would be forced to sit up and take notice.
You are the leaders now – and we are all waiting to follow your lead.
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