If you we born during or after the MTV age, you may have no clue how easy we’ve had it as a country over the last seventy-five years. Those who were born between 1901 and 1928 lived through World War I, the global pandemic of the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, and World War II. They experienced deprivation and sacrifice on a scale that would clog today’s Twitter feeds with tweets crying about about the “unfairness” of it all. The truly earned the moniker, the “Greatest Generation.”
I sometimes wonder if that Greatest Generation had any idea how spoiled, selfish, lazy and ill-mannered their prodigy would become: would they have thought America was worth saving from Fascism? Probably they still would have; Adolph Hitler was so crazy he makes Alex Jones seem like an actual stable genius. And some might wonder that, given the insurrection of January 6th, did we truly defeat fascism?
The generation that survived the depression and won the second world war would have done so because it was the right and honorable thing to do. Their dedication throughout those hardships made the American middle class possible and created prosperity that sailed us into the 21st Century. After all they went through, they didn’t take things for granted like we do today. And as much fun as it is to ridicule Boomers, they were the last generation to be raised by tough, courageous parents.
Hardship either builds character or it reveals intrinsic weakness and cowardice. Those two generations who won the two world wars, overcame the Great Depression and kicked fascist ass in the 1940s did so out of necessity. No doubt they complained about the tough times, but they did so while they took real action to improve their lives. They knew that bitching about a problem isn’t the same as working to solve the problem.
This brings me to the bad joke that is hacktivism—the notion that whining about something in social media is the same thing as taking action. There’s no effort involved in Liking, Retweeting, or making an opinionated video; it’s only slightly better than a token of action. The sad thing is that so many people think that these things are activism.
They couldn’t be less active.
True activism means showing up, be it at a peaceful demonstration, a city hall meeting, a hearing, a politician’s office or, better yet, as part of a political campaign. I got involved in my first political campaign at fourteen-years-old, and though my candidate lost, it got me invested in the idea of America and later helped put me in the mindset to voluntarily enlist in the US Air Force after high school, where I at least got a taste of honor, service and dedication.
If nothing else, I learned that whining isn’t winning; it takes honor, service and dedication to even have a hope of making change. Some might suggest that by writing this blog I do not practice what I preach, but I already have decades on put-on-my-shoes activism under my belt. I have earned my place out of the sun.
It’s your turn now.