The American political and intellectual landscape is renewed constantly by the flow of seasons. Every few years, a new political ideology blossoms and draws support from a generation who finds their interests and values disenfranchised by the status quo. Drawing on the strength of their convictions and the magnitude of their numbers, the ideology establishes itself into the political system, only to be abandoned by the activists who pushed it, who then step out in search of a new, trendy ideology to trumpet. From Marxism to Anarchism to Communism to Feminism, young intellectuals have always found a new cause to trumpet, a new injustice to right. Until Today.
As a young 20-something enrolled in law school, I should be part of an intellectual class that will continue this trend and supplant the ideals of our parents with our own. Instead, I find myself surrounded by jaded and cynical “grown-ups” who enjoy satirizing, lampooning and ridiculing what they don’t feel the need or the will to change. It is no longer “cool” to be an idealist. The spirit of reform and of creating “a better world”, is dead to the modern cynic, who believes, as one of my friends once noted, that the politicians are all corrupt, the charities misappropriate money and people are all jackasses.
Realism isn’t all bad, of course. We are unlikely, for example, to see again the turmoil of the 60s where idealistic students turned streets and college campuses into battlegrounds to protest the Vietnam War. However, the disillusionment and apathy set among students today is not much better. The youth today believe that there is nothing that they can change. As a result, they don’t try and thus, nothing does change. If America wants to retain its position as one of the most powerful countries in the world, it has to find something to inspire its students. If not, it may find that their energies and potentials will remain untapped.