My generation is a strange one, caught in a world of transition. We are old enough to remember VHS tapes and camcorders, yet intimately familiar with the ever-expanding realm of the internet. Temperatures rise and weather changes, and the uncertain shape of the world to come changes every day. In a world still struggling to remove itself from Cold War dichotomies and social conservatism, we work hard to make the world a better place for those who are disenfranchised. We work hard to give people hope. Hope is, after all, what my generation does best.
It seems poetic that my generation, so often criticized for being narcissistic and shallow, is instead so selfless as to invent crowdfunding platforms so that everyone can have hope enough to achieve their dreams, whether that dream is to make a short film, create a new technology, or just to be able to pay for a badly needed surgery. Contrary to how we are perceived, my generation uses the technology that we are told is ruining our lives to help people across the world.
We were raised on President Obama’s first message — “Yes we can” — and we grew into embodiments of his second — “Hope.” We have taken those teachings to heart. We do not just have hope, we make hope. Through social action, protest, and mass direct action, we have become hope.
We have pushed for LGBTQ+ rights; we have told the world that black lives matter; we have fought for the sovereignty of Native Americans at Standing Rock. And even when it would have been easy to give up, when economic inequality runs rampant, when generations allegedly older and wiser than us choose to bring about destructive global climate change so that they can keep their oil money, when people in Flint are forced to drink and bathe with poison water, we don’t give up. We take the ideal, the energy, the feeling, the message of hope and we live that message in the world.
As the world changes even now, with hate and fear spreading, and oceans rising, hope is easy to lose. Hope is often called fragile or fleeting, but the reality is that even in the darkest of times, there is hope. And it is made stronger with every person who embodies and actualizes hope for the lives of others to be brightened by it.