By Elizabeth MacKenzie
WWI, WWII, the Apartheid, the Civil Rights movement, Thatcher – here lies great causes of great generations. Times of community, of action, of waking up every day with such direct and clear purpose. Yet, with so much violence, sacrifice and heartache.
And now we ask ourselves what is our ‘great cause?’ Our ‘purpose?’.
As a millennial, I am worried for the mental wellbeing of my fellow ‘comrades’. In our plush technological lives it is so easy to feel alone and without cause. We no longer live in communities bound by our shared purpose, whereby our life choices were limited and yet we felt so secure.
As sociologist Emile Durkheim would claim, in this time of modernity we are living in a state of anomie – a symptom of modernity that I believe can be to blame for our deteriorating mental health. A phenomenon that has only increased as modernity has developed, and community has been forgotten.
Jez from Peep Show once said, “I think the truth is, basically, I’ve been bored since 9/11”. I don’t know about you, but I find this very relatable. Some causes come and go like a wave, and of course depending on your own beliefs, such as Scottish independence, or the hope of Socialism that rides on the back of Labour restricted Jeremy Corbyn, or Bernie Sanders.
But then, of course, terrorism has remained an ever-prevailing issue since 9/11. However, as a generation our way of dealing with such an issue is unprecedented. We have somehow managed to turn the language of terrorism into one of compassion.
I believe that as a generation we do have a ‘great cause’; however, this is one of the ‘mind’. Almost like a ‘Neo-renaissance’, yet universal, not just reserved for the elite. It is an ‘Empathy Revolution’, one that must conqueror minds.
It has come out of our individualism, a causation of anomie yet a sub-conscious movement against anomie. A movement that has socially, economically and politically shaped our society, and continues to do so. Never before in history has the ‘individual’ been so protected; we uphold diversity and representation.
It is hard to compare the evolution of the Barbie doll to WWII, of course. But I am constantly met with the disapproval of ‘society today’. Buzz phrases are passed around the media about how messed up the world and millennials are today, and how they would rather go to the 1950s, the good old days. Okay, lobotomies and marital rape were legal, but at least we had REAL milkshakes, and people weren’t on their phone all the time.
Within any movement there can be extremes, which I think we have all witnessed within this ‘Empathy Revolution’. But as a generation we do have a cause, and millennials should not accept this idea that we are all idle snowflakes. We have expectations for our fellow man. Not to fight in combat, or to strike, but to respect one another. To have equality in all areas, a fact that I believe shows how far we’ve come as a society.