Since the nineteen-sixties, the West has been on a steady trajectory of ‘liberation’. After the angry fifties, when American college students began protesting the US entry into France’s war in Vietnam, came the sixties, with the hippies and drugs. And starting with the passage of Roe v. Wade, the American Supreme Court decision which, in 1972, legalized abortion in the United States, the women’s liberation movement opened the way to same sex relationships and even medically assisted sex changes.
Somehow, notwithstanding these ‘life-affirming’ events, in 2018, forty thousand people having been killed by guns in the US, American youth realized that on any day, they could be mowed down by an automatic weapon in school, at a night club, in church or synagogue. Perhaps it was partly because they felt powerless to stop global threats, they became determined to challenge those at home. High school students whose friends had been killed in mass shootings through up leaders, whose followers are determined to take gun control out of the hands of political representatives paralyzed by the National Rifle Association.
Known familiarly as ‘the NRA’, this non-profit’ organization was founded in 1871 by Northern veterans whose troops had exhibited poor marksmanship, with the aim of ”promoting and encouraging rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” Soon recognizing the money-making possibilities of guns, the NRA encouraged marksmanship as a sport. When citizens complained of increasing gun deaths, it began to lean heavily on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right of all citizens to carry a deadly weapon, never acknowledging that it was drafted in order to enable slave owners to recapture runaways. With opposition finally reaching a critical mass, the ‘right’ claims that gun ownership is ‘God-given’, based on the Declaration of Independence’s affirmation that ‘men are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights, among these “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Apparently, happiness includes the right to kill a robber instead of calling the police. Consequently, the NRA issues ‘grades’ to politicians according to the way they vote on guns, generously funding those who do not waver.
As the US is increasingly identified as the greatest threat to the world, not only for its aggressive behavior, but because its president denies the existence of a climate threat, young women are taking the painful decision not to have children in a world rushing toward annihilation. And youth across the world is rallying behind a sixteen-year-old from a country where everyone speaks English. Like a modern Joan of Arc, Greta Thunberg is taking on the political class over the climate threat to human survival. Joan was motivated by religious devotion, but what drives Greta’s singular focus is being ‘on the autism spectrum’. Having spurred a special UN session on climate change, no inhibitions prevented her from accusing world leaders of behaving like children, provoking a sustained burst of applause — as well as blowback from the far-left, which appears to believe that worldwide far-reaching change can somehow happen without input from the same financial entities that powered the disaster.
Climate concerns raise the same question as that posed by Lenin during the period of inequality under Russia’s czars: ’What is to be done?’. His answer was to set off a revolution, but today, the challenge is to rein in a worldwide economic system hell-bent on foisting ever more ‘stuff’ on a planet whose resources are finite.
Currently, the legal voting age in most countries is 18, but television and the internet politicize citizens as young as eight. When 2018 set a record for mass shootings in the US, affecting mainly the youth high school students discovered the power of politics. Eloquent sixteen-year-olds can galvanize as many people as seasoned politicians, and will soon run for office. Eventually, they will rewrite the US Constitution, citing Jefferson, who believed this should happen every generation. For now they are reaching out to their contemporaries in Africa and Asia who, cell phones in hand, are marching to force hidebound governments to change.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.