Empowerment And How Far It Has Come – For Better Or For Worse

 

When it comes to empowerment, the present generation is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors. From the advent of social media to a shift in mentality, there are quite a few factors at play here. At a glance, the implications look pretty simple and straightforward – people now have enough courage to speak up against anything wrong happening to them or people they know, or something they perceive to be wrong. And, they are less likely to stop due to concern about the repercussions they might face. It’s hard to argue that this power shouldn’t be given to the people, but like everything else that gets blown out of proportion, some significant downsides to this simply hasn’t been brought to the people’s attention enough.  

In an age where teenagers wage verbal wars with world leaders thrice to four times their age, where three young women in a mall in Delhi can step up and make a middle-aged woman admit on tape about saying horribly insensitive things about the length of their clothing, it is very important to talk about the factors that can cause, or worse, widen the communication gap and lack of understanding between generations, and how over-empowerment can be the leading cause in this matter. 

 

Is Over-Empowerment a real thing? 

Unfortunately, it is a real concept. Over-Empowerment is something that can be associated with every raging world or domestic issue. Examples include gender equality or religious disparities. The cause of this is understandable. Simply put, a group of members of the oppressed or negatively affected party feels the effects so badly that they lose faith in conservative or slow measures as effective solutions. This leads them to banish all filters and boundaries and take matters to drastic realms, often compromising on sensibility, and regard for members of the opposite party. It is liable to invite heaps of backlash and can very often prove detrimental towards the case being built, simply because of the demands being unrealistic and way too harsh, or because of lack of rationality within the ones making the demands.  

 

Why should it be taken seriously? 

We have all had instances where we attempted to make a demand for something we wanted. But, we were dismissed because of “being too young”, or “not knowing what we were talking about”. A very simple example is convincing your parents to move out of your hostel and get private accommodation. If you just barge into their room screaming, “I want to move out!”, they will reject the request instantly. This will also make it harder for you to make another request for the same thing anytime soon.  

This might seem out of the blue here, so let’s place it with some proper context.

The Parkland Massacre

The March of Our Lives was a student-led demonstration on the issue of Gun Control. It happened days within the Parkland Massacre, where a former student was responsible for 17 deaths and 17 more injuries. The perpetrator laid gunfire on students with a semi-automatic rifle (yes, it wasn’t even a pistol. And he was 19). Even though only 10% of the attendees were teenagers, all the speakers belonged to that group. These were children between the ages of 11-18 who were speaking in a mass rally at the Capital. But the main reason was that most of these were survivors of that incident. Experiencing such violence firsthand shook them. They felt something was needed to be done, and hence decided to act. 

Malala Wins The Nobel Prize at 17

Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy towards the education of children and women at the age of 17. The decision of awarding her the prize attracted opposition. But, it is very crucial to look at aspects like the age from which she has been fighting the oppression in her hometown. She wrote her first article for BBC Urdu about her life under Taliban occupation of Swat, her hometown, when she was 11, and how the odds were against her and she still was very peaceful in her approach. In all of her public appearances, she has not once condemned the gunmen who shot her in the head and sympathized with them instead. It’s qualities like this that got her the global appeal she is privileged to hold today. 

It may seem like I am getting sidetracked here, but mentioning all of this was important, because:

1) To emphasize that our generation is not poised to, but already IS taking responsibility to initiate reforms. 

2) More often than not, the current world leaders and party members, who identify as part of a generation significantly older than ours, can find themselves against our generation on many issues (the Republican Party, the ruling party in the USA, still stands firm against Gun Control, over a year since The March of Our Lives). 

Need For Leveling With Politicians

It is understood that no matter to what extent our generation protests or raise awareness until we get the world leaders and lawmakers to agree with us, we cannot make any tangible changes to the way the world works. Hence, it becomes very important to not only have statistics and valid arguments, but it is necessary to be capable of convincing.

Your parents did not agree to let you move out after you just pushed their door open and yelled. Now replace your parents with older, more staunch politicians, who deal with the pressures of running a political party, dealing with the media and protesters on a daily basis, get heaps of work dumped on them by probably the most important bosses in the world, and most importantly, have grown up in different conditions as compared to today’s generation, which led to them having a more orthodox way of thinking and functioning.

Their Generation vs Now

Take the example of the Anti-Abortion bill. Republican leaders gave arguments of being pro-life, regularly mentioning that abortion is not in accordance with ‘god’s will’. They also said that people aborting unborn babies will have god to answer to. It can be established that stern religious beliefs are one of the leading reasons behind the bill being passed. As opposed to this, according to research conducted by Pew Research Center, out of 102 surveyed countries, 41 countries have a situation in which young adults are less likely to be religiously affiliated. According to the same survey, in the USA, 66% of the young adults are likely to be religiously affiliated, as opposed to an 83% chance found in the older population. So, if lawmakers of the current generation were to make a decision on this bill, the decision would’ve been statistically harder to make.  

Coming back to the staunch and overburdened part, politicians are liable to deal with protesters and badmouthing daily. It makes them increasingly impervious to being affected by constant demands being made by activists. Generalizing all demands and turning a deaf ear to protests becomes routine for them. In such a scenario, it becomes crucial that every demand is made in a well-based manner, with proper communication and respectful contest. 

 

“Wait, the younger generations cannot possibly be solely responsible for this” 

They are not. This communication gap and differences in the contexts of upbringing have to be acknowledged by the older generations, too. The fire is being fueled by both sides. On one side, terms and phrases such as “okay boomer” are picking up popularity. On another, world leaders who decide to ignore evidence in the wake of the people presenting them being too immature. The youngsters are growing increasingly restless due to the unfulfilled promises being made. They also realize that the world they will be living in is gravely endangered.  

But again, the leaders have the upper hand here. They are the decision-makers. It remains entirely up to them to bring about changes that positively impact the coming years. And by the tone of this article, you may think that climate change is the only issue being discussed here. But, there is more at stake. Think about child and women safety. Think about firearm distribution. Even about minority empowerment. All issues, global or local, fit here. Time for pointing fingers, stereotyping, and being non-compliant is rapidly running out. No fire can be extinguished now without the canister being operated by both sides. And the sooner everyone realizes this, the better. 

 

  Written by Rithik Talwar for MTTN 

  Artwork by Bhargabi Mukherjee for MTTN 

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