Business & Policy Economics It's Time to Stop Listening to Your Elders By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated October 11, 2018 Emma Gonzalez is one of several impressive voices hailing from the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. (Photo: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images) Share Twitter Pinterest Email Business & Policy Corporate Responsibility Environmental Policy Economics Food Issues Shortly after the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, I made a prediction about the upcoming American election: What happened in the U.K. was in fact a preview of what might happen in the American election: the complete surprise shocker revolution of the older generations, the boomers and seniors, rejecting the changes that have happened in their respective countries in the last decade. It's not a fight to retain the status quo; it's an attempt to turn back the clock, to make things the way they were. I noted that young people have to wake up and take charge, that this was not a left/right split but a demographic battle, and eventually the young will win it because the boomers and seniors are, to put it bluntly, a dying breed. Of course we all now know what happened in the U.S. on Nov. 9, and the demographic battle has been raging every since. It's a battle of generations; the giant tax cuts create deficits that the young will be stuck with. The unleashing of the fossil fuel industry creates wealth now, while the young are stuck with the effects of climate change. Obamacare gets gutted bit by bit, but somehow changes to Medicare — which affect the over 65 crowd — are put off for a few years. I thought it would be the millennials who would show up and change things, but after seeing the young students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in action, I wonder now if it's not the post-millennials, the kids born in this century, who will truly make a difference. 'We will outlive you' David Hogg of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was so startlingly spot-on that some thought he must have been coached. In fact, he was merely prepared. (Photo: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images) No truer words were ever said. I will take no position on the issue of guns in the U.S.; I left the States when I was 2 and don't think it appropriate to comment. But I do want to look at what seems to be the awakening of a generation that's finally showing up and being heard. David Hogg, the teenager who said those words has been under attack; he has been called a "crisis actor" or it's said that he was coached, that he's being led around by George Soros (code for Jews). His full statement in an interview gives insight on his thoughts about those criticizing him: "I’m so sorry for each and every one of them," Hogg said, before turning to the camera and addressing his attackers directly. “"t’s so sad to see how many of you have lost faith in America, because we certainly haven’t, and we’re never going to ... You might as well stop now," he added, "because we’re going to outlive you." Why are these kids so articulate? For one thing, Stoneman Douglas is apparently a pretty good school. According to Dahlia Lithwick, writing in Slate, "the students of Stoneman Douglas have been the beneficiaries of the kind of 1950s-style public education that has all but vanished in America and that is being dismantled with great deliberation as funding for things like the arts, civics, and enrichment are zeroed out." It just happens to have a “system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.” This is a new generation; they are really post-millennials, and have also been wired all their lives, they just own these media. They are totally digital and just kill it on Twitter, like this simple response to someone who said we shouldn't listen to sophomores: Smart response to a dumb statement. (Photo: Sarah Chadwick on Twitter) Blunt words for tough times Personally, I'm happy for Sarah and David's generation to vote, to take their place in society, as we recognize John Kennedy's words from his inaugural address. As you can verify in the video below, they work in this century as well as they did in his: "The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans ... born in this century." This election is probably the first ever that people born in this century can vote, and they're going to make a difference. Writing in the New York Times, Tim Kreider uses far stronger language. He's not happy just to pass the torch; he wants young people to take the torch and burn the place down. Young people have only just learned that the world is an unfair hierarchy of cruelty and greed, and it still shocks and outrages them. They don’t understand how vast and intractable the forces that have shaped this world really are and still think they can change it. Revolutions have always been driven by the young. He's as excited as I am at what these kids have been saying. It has been inspiring and thrilling to watch furious, cleareyed teenagers shame and vilify gutless politicians and soul-dead lobbyists for their complicity in the murders of their friends. His conclusion is powerful, controversial, a bit lefty but seriously attention-getting as he tells millennials and those coming after them: Go get us. Take us down — all those cringing provincials who still think climate change is a hoax, that being transgender is a fad or that “socialism” means purges and re-education camps. Rid the world of all our outmoded opinions, vestigial prejudices and rotten institutions. Gender roles as disfiguring as foot-binding, the moribund and vampiric two-party system, the savage theology of capitalism — rip it all to the ground. I for one can’t wait till we’re gone. I just wish I could live to see the world without us. That is perhaps a bit harsh, and I for one am not in such a hurry to be gone. But I do know that my generation has failed our children; we are squandering our resources and burning the furniture and leaving these kids nothing but scorched earth, if they don't get killed or blown up first. No wonder they're angry. Editor's note: This post contains some opinion. MNN writers sometimes veer into the opinion sphere when it's an appropriate way to delve deeper into a topic. If you would like to respond, reach out to the writer on twitter or send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.