Can the next generation help heal us of inequality?

The word inequality takes many forms – political, social, gender, class or even a part of harder line examples such as sexism or racism. But I pose you this question – is the inequality that exists today there due to a mindset ingrained in the older generation?

Now allow me to put myself into the context of the argument. I am 30, and part of a family where I am lucky enough to have both parents and grandparents still alive, as well as younger siblings who are teenagers. On a regular basis, I am exposed to the variety of feelings, opinions and emotions that these different generations have, and how they communicate them.

It is my belief when looking at my grandparents and my younger siblings that the subject of inequality means very different things to each of them. Not because of their personal opinion but because of the age that they both grew up in, and the mindset, labels and opinions that have surrounded them throughout their lives.

Firstly take my grandparents. They grew up in a very different time and in many ways, we couldn’t be more different. Much of what they say begins with the classic ‘In my day…..’ followed by some surprising or even shocking comment that feels very much out of touch in the modern day. They grew up in an age where the standard life choice was based around a woman and man having set roles in society. Men ruled the house, and in most cases were called up to fight for their country. A woman’s job was to manage the house, bear children and know that this was in a way ‘expected’. It was also a time where it was often shocking for a person of a different race to come into their home – in fact, my grandmother has told me many times how it would never have been accepted for her to have a black boyfriend.

Now this is not a question of whether that was right or wrong…the sad truth is that this is the way it was. Therefore, it is no surprise that these views are ingrained upon much of the elder society – often not because they even make the choice but because it is the way they have grown up.

Now take the younger generation. They have grown up in a polar opposite world, where even though racism and sexism are still frequent evils it is nowhere near the context that their elders experienced. Therefore, many of them are not even aware of the history of things; they don’t appreciate how things ‘used to be’. Their lives are too full of technology, social media etc. to ever have to worry about much that the elder generation did.

I count myself as being part of the ‘Inbetweeners’ – I am of the generation that is aware of the history and I have minor knowledge to understand why my grandparents are the way they are. My younger siblings have no idea; they are the generation that I feel has lost that connection – which could prove to be beneficial to society as a whole.

Prejudices will naturally be lost, no longer will the younger generation think about or consider things that we have to think about every day. I firmly believe that whilst this will not eradicate inequality it will make a giant leap towards removing it from society in so many ways. We can try all we want now but will we really manage to remove mind-sets from generations where it is part of their up-bringing? For me, the best bet is to work on the generation where the mindset wasn’t there.

4 thoughts on “Can the next generation help heal us of inequality?

  1. FNR says:

    Very well written and I really enjoyed how you have used your own background to give your point. However I don’t fully agree with the inequality with the racism. Is it possible for you to elaborate for me what you exactly meant please?

    1. Lionel Longshanks says:

      I was purely stating that racism is in some way a form of inequality, although obviously an extreme example. However in my experience the older generation have some particular views with regards to race that they have been exposed to for their lives, which in today’s society would be seen as offensive.

  2. SB says:

    This is an interesting article and I agree that inequality is ingrained in the mindset. We should focus on the current and future generations.

    I don’t think that the millennials have grown up in a polar opposite world though. Inequality still exists, maybe not in the slavery/lack of political rights kind of way, but it’s still there. If you look in the US, non-whites still face racism – we constantly see examples of where blacks are targeted by the police. Donald Trump uses hate speeches and looking at the amount of support he is receiving in the US, inequality is still at large.
    Also, I’m not sure if I agree that the older generation cannot change their minds – I constantly challenge my grandparents’ mindset and question any prejudices or preconceived notions. We need to continue that because isn’t that how everyone grows and learns?

    1. Lionel Longshanks says:

      I agree that we can look to challenge and question the mindset of our elders – however I am not convinced we can pro-actively change their mindsets with as much success. That is not to say it isn’t possible but I would question whether it is something that can be done on mass.

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