Whether it’s Brexit, climate change, or mental health, young people’s concerns are going unheard.
If we speak up, we’re ridiculed. If we protest, we’re criticised. If we take time out of our studies to campaign, we’re told to go back to school. Young people don’t bother engaging in political matters because of a continuous and considered effort to exclude, by any means necessary possible. You’ve probably heard this before, but some elections are deliberately held on awkward dates in the calendar for students, with the sole aim to reduce the amount of students voting.
In 2016 over 70% of young people voted Remain in the EU referendum. We voted to remain part of a union of countries with shared interests and common values. Since then, young voices in the campaign to stop Brexit were unheard. Our concerns about educational programs and opportunities like Erasmus+, travel and cooperation were ignored. Instead of discussions about the real life impacts of leaving the EU, our elected officials, obsessed with jingoistic fantasies of a time now gone, led our debates with silly nationalist arguments and petty point scoring like the infamous ‘blue passports’ and ‘commemorative 50p coins’.
Young people will now be left to deal with the fallout of Brexit, whatever that outcome may be. The cost could be astronomical and at this point, hope seems to be all we have left. Hope that our Government doesn’t completely desert us, and make young people the latest casualty of a wild political project led by selfish career politicians.
If Brexit has taught me anything, it’s that when it comes to seismic political events, people tend to bury their head in the sand, double down, and pretend the issues won’t impact them.
This couldn’t be more clear than in the climate change debacle, an issue where we do not have the luxury of time. Our continuing efforts to encourage world leaders and elected representatives to take action on the climate emergency have been met with resistance, especially in the United States and Australia.
The UK might have declared a climate emergency, but little action has been taken to ensure mitigating measures are adopted. It looks to have been more of a tokenistic gesture than an actual want to save the planet.
Climate Change is the defining issue of this generation.Tweet
It is here to stay, and if more substantial action isn’t taken soon by the international community, protests and demonstrations shall continue and will undoubtedly grow in size.
The Extinction Rebellion phenomenon, which advocates non-violent action to seize media attention and force change, has become a beacon of hope for activists worldwide. Whether it’s shutting down London or organising marches across the globe with millions attending, it is clear how strongly people feel about the climate emergency.
None feel more strongly about the evident inaction from world leaders than young people. Greta Thunberg, the 17 year old climate activist, has become the anthesis of nonchalant right wing climate change deniers worldwide, and in doing so, has inspired millions of young people to take action in their communities.
Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Previous generations have found themselves being roundly ignored in way similar to now, but the ramifications have been less severe. The rock’n’roll and hippy rebellions showed that young people can think differently, and can forge a different future, but the depressing reality is, unless we see a major change in the political system, young voices will continue to go unheard.
Cover Photo credit: Nathalia Rodrigues