Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More than a voice.... direction

George W. Bush became the 43rd President Jan. 1 of 2001. I was a 17 year old junior in high school when he was inagurated. At that time I favored Howard Dean, and then Al Gore when he recieved the nomination, but I had no legal voice in politics. I was still 17 when 9/11 occurred. I remember the state of shock everyone was in and the saturation of 24/7 media coverage. I remember everything feeling like it was in slow motion and the silent fear that so many people walked around with. At the time, I didn't understand how this event would shape and define my generation. The class of 2002- my class- was the first to graduate and enter adulthood in a post 9/11 world.

We were told that things would be different and it seemed like everyone; adults and kids, took a step back to observe what those differences would be. Our genereation no longer knew what to expect. We were entering a skewed world that was not reflective of those that had entered adulthood before us. We lived in a world where we could be attacked while attending a football game. We lived with a color system that clued us into our safety. Was it a red day or were we on orange alert? I remember sitting in the O'Hear airport in Chicago during a "Red Alert" waiting to take a flight home from college. Everyone was nervous and on edge. People looked around to judge those who they would be sharing travel space with. Passengers developed silent plans in case of emergency. Mental lists were made of who we would be called in case the plan was hi-jacked... We looked around and wondered which passenger would be able to stand up and lead the fight against the hypothetical terrorists. Our generation entered adulthood as vulnerable and passive observers.

This flock of sheep mentality was best demonstrated when the hurricanes hit. I had been in India 6 months prior to Hurrican Katrina's attack. I remember walking through villages in Nagapattinam that had been completely destroyed. I visited with families who had been displaced and provided us tours of the tin huts they lived in. The whole trip I was thinking, "This would never happen in the U.S." I remember verbalizing those thoughts to my travel companions and we were all in agreement. We believed that the U.S. had leadership in place that would prevent that type of aftermath. There's an odd sense of safety and entitlement you feel as a U.S. citizen. We believe we have inalienable rights that citizens of third world countries are still fighting for. What an interesting assumption. When Katrina hit, neighborhoods were destroyed and families were displaced. The scene looked very similar to third world India. Once again our leadership looked to the right and to the left. Local government looked towards the federal government to take lead, federal government observed. They did not know what to do and so they did nothing.

It seems like the whole country has been searching for leadership, not just the young adults. We looked at the adults ahead of us, who in turn looked at those above them. Those that were in positions to lead were looking to the left and the right... almost wondering who was going to stand up and lead. My mom has often commented that my generation has been politically silent when compared to her late '60's early 70's revolution. I wouldn't disagree with that. I think the difference is they had something to rebel against. They had a generation of leaders attempting to shape their world and their future. They didn't like the vision of the that generation so they fought for their own vision. My generation has been given a blank canvas. We've been given change and the unknown. We don't have anything to rebel against because we don't have any leadership pointing us in any direction. It's as if the country feels lost and unsure. No one rebels against uncertainty... During uncertain times people observe and they wander. That's what we've done.

To me this election represents an oppurtunity to choose an active leader. I'm excited for Barak Obama to fearlessly accept the responsibilities of leadership. I'm not just ready for change... I'm ready for direction.


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