Millennials and the Fight Against Hate
October 17, 2017
Just writing that word makes me a little nervous and a lot uncomfortable. Hate defined is “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.”
It is a word that I was taught as a child never to use because it represented such intense distain and ugliness. Frankly, my parents believed there was neither a use for that word nor a place for that emotion in any aspect of the lives my siblings and I were learning to cultivate—we had no need to feel that way towards anything or anyone—and, my parents tried mightily to ensure that we were never the recipients of that emotion.
Fast forward nearly 40 years into the future. Hate is not only a word that is being slung around in our everyday vernacular; it is now being expressed as the deeply divisive emotion that the word represents—and many people have felt the effects of this emotion.
2017 is a year that has witnessed some of the darkest moments and events in our country in decades: Immigration and travel bans. Restricted rights of women and the LGBTQ community. The horror of Charlottesville. Tensions with North Korea. Delayed help to Puerto Rico after devastating hurricanes. And, even as I write this blog (October 1st), another 58 innocent lives were just taken and more than 500 additional people were injured in Las Vegas because of one person’s blatant disregard for the value of human life.
So, what do all of these events have in common?
Simply stated, these hostile actions are stemming from fear and anger; and, in the process, they are precluding individuals and groups of individuals from achieving their basic human rights—more specifically their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Which leads many to wonder, including myself:
When will this ugliness between humans stop? Who will stop the hate? Who will stand up and say this is no longer acceptable in the life I want to live?
If Achieve’s 2017 Millennial Impact Report is any indication, it is the millennial generation who is standing up and using their voice – and in many different octaves – to combat the hate we are currently witnessing.
The 2017 research study revealed that the greatest percentage of millennials are not happy with the direction our country is taking, and they are initiating action to affect the issues they are the most interested in – namely, matters of civil rights.
Before you think you know everything there is to know about “the millennials” and coin their actions as “do-gooding” and “nice” gestures, please be aware they are not only tackling these issues through traditional means of support like volunteering and donating.
They are not being "slacktivists" and merely posting on social media.
Their approach to creating change is as multifaceted as the generation of which they are a part. They are advocates, allies, supporters and activists. They are activists who will not be ignored, who are demanding change and shouting that they will neither stand for hate nor remain quiet in its presence.
And, the most beautiful aspect of millennial activism is that they are not only directly engaged with causes and social issues; they are also looking to and working within institutions to create change by affecting policy in support or in opposition of those causes and social issues. They are voting for elected officials in droves. They believe voting is one’s duty as a citizen of the U.S. They even reported voting is a form of activism.
Moreover, they typically participate in petitioning, protesting and marches and rallies as behaviors to activate change. They are not tossing pennies into the fountain and wishing for change; they are mobilizing for change through their own individual agency just as much as they are operating within “the establishment” to stand up for what they believe.
They will not be silenced.
While much remains to be seen how the most diverse and most educated generation in history will ultimately address the inequalities and inequities we are currently witnessing, they are demonstrating that they are not shy about “putting their money where their mouths are,” so to speak. And, by all indications they have what it takes to make the change they want to see.
In other words, like my parents did so many years ago for my siblings and me, millennials are trying mightily to ensure that neither they nor groups of which they are not a part are never the recipients of the ugliest of all emotions.
One thing has been made very clear by millennials… Hate has no place here.