No one likes being treated like a child. Children don’t know everything the adults do; besides, they have other things to worry about – y’know, kid stuff. And the grown-ups have important jobs to do! They need to take care of the helpless children and go to work, y’know, adult stuff. The world has no time to explain things to children. But think about the world cultivating around us – it’s as alive as those children and they are the ones that are going to have to fight for it when the grown-ups are gone. We have a greater responsibility than ever to the children of this world, including ourselves and our peers, to lead by example. Time and time again, children are told to stop asking so many questions, that things just are the way there are, “because I said so” – the classic responses to children asking why things can’t be done differently. Then, you had no power, you had only the infantilizing feeling of not being heard.
Children, are underrated role models. Their relentless curiosity dares to question the most fundamental of things, a valuable skill we often forget to use. The ‘grown-ups’ are now the people that hold the power over the masses, they act as gatekeepers who listen to grievances with the same attention as a lackluster babysitter. We are taught to believe that this world has always been, and always will be. People who dare to question authority are disregarded as immature, and treated accordingly. Do not be fooled, they have been discrediting real political energy since forever.
You might have noticed how the media has portrayed leftist activism recently. Depending on who’s talking –
Snowflakes. Spoiled brats. Children.
Thugs. Violent. Criminals.
Hm. Ever think there might be a power dynamic there?
Somehow they’ve crafted the image political activists out to be silly children as well as a menace – an image that exposes society’s fear of what they can’t control. Society rewards complacency. If you want the key to respectable adult society, they tell you that you gotta play by the rules. People exist on a spectrum of political ideologies. In the middle, floating in limbo, are the people who won’t budge one way or the other in the name of a ‘moral high ground.’ These are oppression’s best friends. I’m talking mostly of the white, upper-middle class that choose to opt-out of political action. This is the heart of message I want to get across; centrist ideology, or the refusal to pick a side, is deadly. Good intentions are not enough, because good intentions mean nothing if you never act upon them. Those folks in political limbo have chosen the path of maturity, so they say. They are proud of their political blindness. Their complacency wraps quite comfortably underneath their blanket of privilege. Childlike qualities – imagination, curiosity – have been condemned. We are told to get in line and get a job, doing anything else would be ludicrous. These are the people that uphold the status quo to keep us in our place. If people are busy trying to fulfill the standard required for “a good, American life,” who has time to worry about changing things? It is not enough to sit idly by, or claim false solidarity. If we want things to change, we’re going to have to do something about it. Education of yourself, your family, community, friends, and lovers is a wonderful starting point. If you think you don’t have enough time to devote yourself to the fight – learn about the cruelties that plague the lives of people that are just trying to survive. Look out your window and empathize with the world beyond it. It may be safe and warm in your home, but what are you going to do when the neighbors’ is burning?
For me, I was very fortunate in my first year at the university to be welcomed with open arms into a community that cared so deeply about fighting injustice in all its forms. There was no way I could go on and live my college experience without getting involved. I was treated, as a younger person, with respect. I developed my own identity, my politics, and the skills I needed to articulate my thoughts. My experience is a privileged one, and it’s up to us in similar situations to make injustice visible, and make means of resistance accessible. If you consider yourself an ally to the social justice movement, don’t let the people in your life feign ignorance. When I say ‘us’ or ‘our’ or ‘we’ I mean all of us that are hurting and know that something must be done. It’s time to force the privileged people of society into action; this is our fight whether we want to participate or not – we cannot ignore that people have felt the pain of oppression all their lives. The people who choose to turn a blind-eye and accept the world in its current state as fact are part of what is standing between the ‘same old’ and a world where people can actively determine the life they want to live. Don’t let em’ get ya down. Screw playing by the rules. Demand that things be done differently, like the little girl on the playground that got kicked off the soccer field by the boys – don’t let them get their way.
Throw a tantrum.