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No More Snooze Button

It is no secret if you are a part of today’s younger generation of Americans that current events and news stories, domestic or otherwise, don’t generate a lot of buzz for very long. Go to a college party and try to bring up Supreme Court politics or the turmoil in Turkey and you’ll see firsthand how disinterested we seem to be in regards to conversing about the implications of our own immediate reality. My position as editor-in-chief for a small college publication gives me the experience and observable statistics to back up this premise. Unless news is breaking and immediately relatable to your audience (such was the case for the Boston Marathon bombings), it often goes unnoticed entirely.

Much more often you’ll hear us ranting about sports or the thousands of sub-categories that make up our entertainment culture. I’m not going to act holier-than-thou and pretend like I can’t understand why people bother with that sort of thing. I’m young too. I absolutely understand why dissecting an episode of Game of Thrones is more fun than attempting to unravel our economic struggles, or why incredibly intellectual people will spend hours talking (and sometimes actually yelling) about Kanye’s baby instead of something that has potential implications on their life. This isn’t to say in any way that all young people are stupid or incapable of handling or discussing real world issues; I’m merely saying that most of the time, we choose not to.

This article isn’t about finding the root of our generation’s apathy or finding solutions to our biggest problems. I’m writing this article because for the past year, there has been an unshakable feeling permeating to my very core that the world is headed for some irreversible and groundbreaking changes that will test every single person’s mental fortitude. The kind of changes that will finally force people to debate and care about what is going on around them in the world; something to finally make people wake up from their comfortable dreams of endless indulgence and mindless distractions. To me, the alarm clock of cataclysmic change has been sounding for a long time, and it just seems like so many people are lazily hitting the snooze button to try and dream for as long as possible.

To try and explain why I feel like our civilization is approaching a crossroad, and why our species is headed for a serious gut checking, let us look at the world around us for a second. The sheer amount of structural, moral, political, economical, ideological, and societal instability is essentially what fuels news networks these days. So many countries are at such dire degrees of tension that killing one another is a regular occurrence. So many fundamental beliefs of different people clash constantly, through every aspect of life. What is going to give? Are these issues going to stop mattering to the people in power? Throughout all of history, major wars, conflicts, or tragedies were prefaced by eras of what historians always describe as “increasing tensions.”  Can one really look at the state of the world and not see the tensions increasing with every passing day?

Look at our own country for goodness sake. We have a population of people who advertise themselves as the freest people in the world. The most civilized, the best, the biggest, the baddest. United we stand. The only problem is that when you stow the BS and look at ourselves objectively, we aren’t united about basically anything.

In just the past year, we have been witness to some incredibly historic events. I’ll focus on what I consider to be one of the most important developing news stories in modern day American history. The NSA was literally just exposed, red handedly, that they have been spying (legally thanks in part to the Patriot Act) on basically whoever they want to whenever they see it fit.

Now look at the interpretations of this discovery from the U.S. populace. On one side there are people who think that Edward Snowden is a traitor for his actions. Other people think of Snowden as a superhero of justice. There are people like me who think the government has absolutely no right to pry into the lives of its citizens, trampling civil liberties and the Constitution. Then there are people who say, “We should never expect privacy online,” or “If they stop terrorists then they can spy all the time, I’ve got nothing to hide.” And then there are the scores of people would roll their eyes at me writing this, because this development doesn’t resonate or isn’t newsworthy to them. They are all valid opinions, but they clash at the fundamental level of what the people who hold them believe.

My point is that literally no matter what the issue is, be it about abortion, foreign affairs, privacy rights or lack thereof, gun control, recreational drug use, religion’s place in society, science, etc. etc., there are extreme and unshakable opinions on both sides of the political spectrum that continuously and inarguably muck up the entire democratic system time and time again. Our Congress is an absolutely perfect example of just how flawed our democratic system has become. The actual, real life, polled percentage of people that think of Congress in a purely positive light is 6. Six. Percent. We have seen them bumble over the debt ceiling multiple times, almost causing another economical disaster because they literally can’t agree on anything. The partisanship that has besieged our government can be accurately described as an ever-growing malignant tumor that is not going to be cured by a miracle.

I want to clarify right here and now that the previous paragraphs do not make me anti-America. In my own city, we’ve endured a heartless act of terrorism that came out of nowhere on a day where the last thing anybody was thinking about was terrorism. This tragic occurrence brought out the best kind of qualities in our people; the kind of qualities that make me damn proud to be an American citizen. The feelings of unity, peace, benevolence, and an overwhelming feeling of passion for our fellow humans and our shared environment was a refreshing shift from the cynical, elitist, “my way is better than your way,” attitude that has become so common among us. It truly saddens me that it seems to take an act of pure hatred to bring out the most unconditional good. What saddens me even more is how soon and how easily we forget this way of thinking and regress back to the same old cycle of individual isolationism.

In my personal opinion, there is no more damaging and dangerous course of action for a young American full of intelligence, opportunity, and potential than willingly and blindly waving a flag in the face of obvious malcontent at the hands of its government. Maybe I’m way off base, but I really think there is, fast approaching, a time where we won’t be able to quibble over our differences like schoolchildren, and will have to take a step back and stop looking at the world like it’s black and white, right and wrong. I think there will be a time very soon when people who believe that their way of thinking is the only solution will be forced to reconsider. I want the world to be ready for this moment because I believe we’re capable of so much more than we are accomplishing. Agree, disagree, raise questions, call me names, dissect every word of my plea. Just prove to me that you’re not asleep.


Ethan Hartley is editor-in-chief of The Suffolk Voice and can be reached at View the original article @

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