In an America, with so many important, unjust, and often, quite frankly, insane things occurring and unfolding, it’s becoming more and more difficult to ‘keep up’ and easier to simply become numb to it all. The web of countless lies being told, and the consistency on which basic rights are stripped from individuals, have become almost normal. Another day, another horrible tweet, another unjust act, and so it goes… I was getting so sick of it all that I realized I was becoming complacent. Nothing shocked me anymore because all the news was the same to me. Maybe I’m the only one who’s feeling this way, but I suspect I’m not alone. When and why did we all become so ‘okay’ with everything?
The inundation of both politicized (and seemingly un-politicized) media we receive on a day to day basis is so vast and enormous, pulling us in hundreds of different directions that often slip into our subconscious and manifest as our steadfast thoughts and beliefs. Media is never objective in nature, no matter how much we’d like to believe we’re receiving cold hard facts. Sometimes, that can be dangerous. We’re slowly but surely creeping into a new, and perhaps treacherous, age in the realm of media coverage, especially considering the threats to freedom of the press we face under a president whose battering of the news media creates an enormous sense of distrust on all ends of the spectrum. When it comes to the news, I have recently found myself tuning out the never-ending stream of media because the endless negativity in an era of Trump-ian politics got to a point where a great deal of it didn’t even shock me anymore, and that’s pretty scary.
I’m a white, middle-class citizen. I’m not in a position where I’m paying my own bills and I haven’t faced poverty or known hunger. #complacency
Perhaps part of it is the generation we come from. Millennials and Gen Y/Z have gotten a reputation for being the so-called “generation of the self”; we are living in an individualistic society in which everyone sets out to self-promote, and this can lead to self-absorption. My peer group is stereotypically characterized by the act of phasing out the world around us in favor of our own personal endeavors. Of course, this is a very broad generalization, however there is certainly some truth in it. We’re multi-taskers, go-getters, and forward-thinkers too, though, which is the gracious energy we need to be channeling into fighting the good fight, so to speak.
My own personal struggle with this comes from my upbringing. Though I was raised very liberally and have developed even stronger beliefs in liberal ideals as I have gotten older and studied more, I come from a very conservative area, and though I did not realize it so much growing up, on the whole, my hometown is not as culturally aware as other areas I have come to know in my adult (or adult-ish) life. This is, again, a generalization, but it’s one with many morsels of truth. I think that because of this overall complacent environment I grew up in, when I was in high school, I didn’t really feel I had a voice, or much of a desire for that matter, to make change. But now, I’m working in a city where change happens. I’m spending a great deal of my summer in New York City, a place that’s inspiring me in a wide range of ways, the most prominent one being the power of this place and the diversity not only in race, but also in thoughts and beliefs that I see. City people are vocal, and their drive and willingness to speak up for what they believe in gives me hope for the future of our country.
One reason that many Americans fall into the complacency trap, and fail to fight for justice, is that we rely on the daily news not necessarily affecting our day-to-day lives. I’m a white, middle-class citizen. I’m not in a position where I’m paying my own bills and I haven’t faced poverty or known hunger. I’m not a person of color facing both subtle and directly harmful and life-threatening acts of discrimination. I’m not an immigrant facing the very real possibility of deportation. The list goes on. These privileges allow for complacency, because a large portion of our population is not always touched by our country’s plentiful sources of injustice in tangible ways. But that is absolutely no excuse. It is vital that we recognize the aspects of our own privilege that allow for us to remain complacent, and even in some cases, ignorant. We have to start noticing the normalization of hatred in order to move forward. That’s an important step in the right direction.
Here are just a few of the important ways we can fight back.
Read constantly. Read all sides of the argument. Stay aware. Know your stuff. It’s important to both formulate your own opinions and keep an open mind and willingness to learn more.
Be constantly questioning what you see and read in the news, the biases you find others perpetuating, and even your own thoughts and actions.
Find an organization that’s important to you and participate. Email or call your state representatives. Go to a protest. Get in on the action and do your part in any way you can.
None of us, especially millennials like myself, can afford to just let things slide. It doesn’t matter what walk of life we come from– everybody has a responsibility to stay actively involved within the current political climate. My peers, my generation– we’re in the time and place to work toward fixing this America tainted by division. I certainly don’t want to stand idly by as it all unfolds. We can’t accept it, so let’s change it.