What does it mean to be a young public official who cares about constituents and not be insatiably ambitious? Candidly, this is a question I often struggle with internally, considering I’m the prototypical millennial, purportedly imperious, brazenly ambitious, expeditiously searching for equitable opportunities and often apathetic to “established traditions.”
Nonetheless, the characteristics mentioned don’t suggest that younger generations (millennials and Generation Zs) are devoid of the capacity to show due reverence to traditional norms.
The truth is we do respect traditions, albeit indicative of history repeating itself; historically, it’s the young who are the catalyst for social change. In the 1980s, young, educated conservatives cultivated a fiscally and socially conservative movement that until recently dominated the mainstream Republican apparatus.
Moreover, globally, inspiring young leaders such as Frida Kahlo, Dolores Huerta, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Bobby Kennedy are prominent examples of how youthful vigor inspired generations in the arduous pursuit of societal change.
Chiefly, at the height of these change agents’ careers, many of their more seasoned colleagues lamented to their naïveté; they were told that they should be “more patient” and to “wait their turn.” King’s “Letter from Birmingham” astutely critiqued clergy who insisted he was a “troublemaker” for non-violently advocating for equality (King also authored a book titled, “Why We Can’t Wait”).
Similarly, Kennedy once noted, “This world demands the qualities of youth, not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”
Nevertheless, despite the cynics of the personages mentioned in this literature, the luminaries continued to push their missions forward. And in the process, it aided in shaping the world as we know it today.
Presently, just like the prominent social voices of the past, millennials and Generation Zs are championing contemporary social issues in addition to questioning why the progress of those luminaries mentioned remains dormant.
Furthermore, the young question, why are we continuing to hear the same grandiose campaign promises, irrespective of partisan affiliation? Given this, too often, many politicians either become complacent, “play to their base” or “play it safe” until the next election.
Indeed, they’re not asking us, public officials, to be perfect; they are not. They ask us to care and do what we were elected to do, be an altruistic voice for all citizens — a reasonable request from those who have entrusted us with power.
Markedly, if history has taught us anything, it’s to listen to the voices of our youth. To quote the venerable Steve Jobs, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, you can glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, they push the human race forward, because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”