March 09, 2014

Young versus old - "The real split in Ukraine" [and Northern Ireland]

I've previously wrote a post, 'The young people will bring change to Iran' where I cited Alec Ross, Senior advisor to Hilary Clinton 2009-2013 who said of young people in Iran and China:
"What is ultimately going to change China, what is ultimately going to change Iran are young people in these countries. There are half a billion people in china who us microblogging sites, 400 million of whom are under 25. That's what's going to change China. That's what's going to change Iran."
Christopher Hitchens spoke of "Iran's baby boomerang" whereby:
"Within the carapace of a theocratic state, an almost completely secular society is being created." Muslim mullahs sowed a baby boom whose children will reap their overthrow.
Christina Lamb explained this phenomenon in the Sunday Times also where trendy restaurants "are packed with young people drinking lattes and smoothies, smoking and texting on their iPhones as they plan their night out."
In Ukraine the recent clash has been a generational one. Julia Ioffe (juliaioffe) wrote an article in The New Republic, 'Eastern Ukraine Is Still Fighting Its Past - Life under Stalin's long shadow'.
"The younger a citizen of Donetsk, the more likely she is to view herself as Ukrainian. The older she is, the more likely she is to identify as Russian. And this is the crux of it all: What we are seeing today is the reverberation of what happened more than 20 years ago. This is still the long post-Soviet transition. And this is what it’s like to wander in the desert, waiting for the old generation to die off."
Andrew Sullivan covered it with 'The Real Split in Ukraine'.

The long shadow of the Troubles looms over every aspect of the political process. While so much of the population have long freed and taken themselves into the sunlight. We can either wait for the holdouts to die as Julia Ioffe suggests or we can let the new generation take the lead. I wrote here that we need a new generation of both politicians and journalists. David Gavaghan, chief executive at Titanic Belfast (@TitanicBelfast) said:
"It's the young kids who'll make the decisions and the change."
We've had just about enough of this nonsense and it's quickly becoming apparent that people will have to start saying, up with this we will not put.

We do face a problem of ageism in Northern Ireland, something I've written about before, as well as Lyra McKee here. It's a two prong problem. One, young people take a fettered and "ironical attitude towards the authority figure", something Seamus Heaney realised during his time at Harvard. Two, associated with this we have a culture of "know your place lad and bide your time."

We need the agency and activism of Mary Robinson who wielded a healthy disregard for authority and accepted customs and traditions.

We need a Margaret Mead who said:
"Never ever depend on governments or institutions to solve any major problems. All social change comes from the passion of individuals."
She also said:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

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