This week I wanted to build on the last blog entry which was all about climate change. Today it’s a bit shorter one, but not in any way less important. This song by Black Veil Brides embraces the topic of politics in a specific way:
We, won’t let them turn away“Wake Up” – Black Veil Brides
We’ll show them what they made
We’ll be here when their heart stops beating
We the nation of today
Our hearts that never fade
We’ll be here when their heart stops beating
With the first line being “All we know is time / Is slipping from our lives”, one can see that this song is an anthem to open your eyes to the truth. It has been clear for quite a while that our time on this planet is limited. If we don’t act against climate change and other harmful human influences, it is only going to get worse. However, humans have been in a deep denial of this very fact which can be seen in this line: “A world that kept the truth / Hidden in the lies”. We may try and tell ourselves that we still have enough time and that the human impact on climate change isn’t that big, but it’s just not the truth. The truth has been hidden in the lies, lies that are ever so often told by parts of the government or politicians in general. Us citizens can choose to live more eco-friendly but if the government doesn’t go along with that we only got half of the equation. This protest against the government comes through in the chorus. Citizens have several ways to get the government’s attention. We can demonstrate and we can initiate petitions about what we want to see happen in the world. The last line of the chorus (“We’ll be here when their hearts stop beating”) also reminds me of another phenomenon: Generational gaps in politics.
The generational gap in politics
According to a article by the Pew Research Center, there is a wide gap between the views, opinions and beliefs of the older and more recent generations. One of their surveys showed the job approval on four presidents of the United States from four generations: The Silent Generation, the Boomers, Gen X and the Milennials.
While more individuals from the Silent Generation and the Boomers (46 and 42 %) approved of Trumps job as U.S. president, only 27 % of the Milennials approved of his job. In contrast, this generation approved significantly more of Obamas job as president with a percentage of 64 %. To summarize it, Milennials and Generation Z for example do have a more liberal and democratic outlook and also increased ethnic and racial diversity. In comparison, the older generations like the Boomers and the Silent Generation represent more conservative positions.
Generational gaps in climate change awareness?
How does phenomenon play a role in climate change awareness? While there have been many discussions about this topic, Professor Bobby Duffy makes the following important clarification: “There are many myths about the differences between generations – but none are more destructive than the claim that it’s only the young who care about climate change.” (Duffy, 2022). In fact, there is no real difference in the generations’ views on climate change. While many believe that older generations think changing their behaviour is pointless, the opposite is actually the case. “Parents and grandparents care deeply about the legacy they’re leaving for their children and grandchildren – not just their house or jewellery, but the state of the planet.” (Duffy, 2022).
What does this tell us? Generational gaps certainly exist in many political topics. Racism and same-sex marriage only being two of them, show, that these gaps can have a great influence on the generations’ political preferences and attitudes. However, times are changing and slow and steady more of the older people are becoming open to more liberal ways of thinking. Generational gaps are also certainly not something to worry about in every political topic. For reference, there being a wider consensus on feelings of climate change responsibility amongst the different generations, is actually a good thing. Because it shows that we are stirring in the right direction mentally. What needs to happen is action. We need to live out what we preach and not wait for other people ‘out there’ to take the first steps. Staring to improve your own environmental footprint is important. Maybe this will help open the eyes of certain people in the government and leave a good example. Whether we are dealing with a generational gap or not, it is best to look past your rather conservative views once in a while and see what other and often times better perspectives there are on a topic. To work in unison, not exlusion.
– Pew Research Center (2018). The Generation Gap in American politics. Pew Research Center – U.S. Politics & Policy.
Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/03/01/the-generation-gap-in-american-politics/ [Accessed September 18, 2022].
– King’s College London (2021). Generational divide over climate action a myth, study finds. King’s College London. Available at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/generational-divide-over-climate-action-a-myth-study-finds [Accessed September 18, 2022].