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Millennial Life: Seek Out the Change-Makers, Not Just the Young

Cassie McClure on

I had a meeting with young activists last week. They each had prepared statements and a binder with my name on it, with handwritten tabs for each section. I had at least 10 to 15 years on each of them and had an almost maternal pride watching them. But it wasn't their youth that inspired me; it was the gumption they had to organize. It was the fact that in their hearts, they are change-makers.

Conversely, I sat in a group earlier this week where I brought the age median down by at least two decades. Their call for membership was to engage the youth; they needed young people to drive the change -- the youth, the youth, the youth.

I bristle when I hear this since I was more recently a part of that demographic. When the older generations wanted the youth at the table, many times it was just a request to do unpaid labor, usually in the realm of social media. It wasn't a request to take part in making change in any meaningful way. There were ways of how things were done and that's what we, the youth, needed to learn as we helped them figure out how to make a Word document into a PDF.

And this is why The Youth and The Middle-Aged speculate about the true intent to control TikTok. Is it more because finally a large group of people can talk to each other more directly and that's a threat to the usual ways that traditional power structures can control the narrative?

While the older group would have loved to have seen the activists I met with at their meeting, and there could have been some meeting of the minds, it would have been a stretch at true intergenerational dialogue, because it would have meant challenging the rote generalizations that are even joked about now. From the meeting with the older group, "We understand that we keep saying that this is the most important election of your lifetime..."

Do they, though? The urgency is driven down when every election is that way, and the powers that have been instated over and over are the ones who have calcified this into a two-way, Old Man Shakes Fist at Cloud election -- again.

Here's the thing: I don't think that change is necessarily with the young, but it's with those willing to create change.

 

While it's true that young people often bring fresh perspectives, energy, and adaptability to the table, it should be more about emphasizing change-makers than age, which acknowledges that age alone doesn't guarantee innovative thinking or the ability to catalyze progress.

Change-makers can emerge at any age. Change-makers come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Change-makers have passion and curiosity, and sometimes amounts of privilege that allow them to make space for raising their voices in ways that others cannot. That said, there's nothing like a parent with a baby on their hip, making time to talk at public comment or go to a board meeting and having their toddler kick the legs of their chair as they speak.

Change-makers are sometimes hidden and may need to be coaxed out. But it's on organizations to create spaces that allow diversity. When every meeting is at a church, where many more of my age do not feel welcome, and not a park where you can throw middling pizza at your brood as they run around while you and other change-makers debate legislative advocacy, don't wonder why the organizations that used to have true civic engagement slowly start to fade away and new ones take their place.

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Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at cassie@mcclurepublications.com. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.

 

 

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