Opinion: It is Gen Z’s duty to prevent history from repeating

Liam Killian, Artistic Director

 In my elementary years, every anniversary of 9/11, I remember that my teachers would take some time out of class to talk about the magnitude of the event and their personal experiences with it. They would then go on to show some footage and play audio from the day. Most of my classmates were not alive on 9/11, but we grew up in its shadow.

Not only did my generation, Gen Z, grow up in a post-9/11 country but we also grew up with the explosion of the modern internet. The internet developed alongside us, from a medium used in mostly work nature (email and search engine functions), to becoming a popular mode of entertainment with social media (Youtube and now TikTok). I believe the combination of the two are the major shaping features in how Gen Z has interacted with and continues to interact with the world. 

I also believe that Gen Z is repeating steps that a prominent generation beforehand has already taken: that generation being the baby boomers.

The seemingly common feeling amongst young people is that (most) boomers are conservatives who are out of touch with the needs or problems of the generations that followed them. Many people point to the baby boomers as the reason America lags behind other developed nations in terms of healthcare, livable wage and civil rights. 

I think something that is overlooked though is the history behind how baby boomers have been referred to as a generation. Before they were stereotyped as conservative-individualists of today, they were the radical-leftists of yesterday. I also believe that their story serves as insight, and perhaps a warning to some, as to how our generation might develop.

Instead of 9/11, baby boomers grew up in the shadow of the atomic bomb, the fear of which ushered in the Cold War.

Baby boomers also grew up in a time where mass communication of information was visually available as televisions could relay information one could see. In much the same way that we today can look on our phone and see firsthand video of shootings or police violence that mobilize us to protest, baby boomers saw real footage of Civil Rights Movement Protesters being attacked or footage from Vietnam from their own television sets. 

It was the baby boomers who participated in the 1960s Civil Rights movement. It was the baby boomers that participated in and were the hippies of the anti-war movement. Baby boomers who were shot in the Kent State massacre. Baby boomers were the generation at Stonewall.

Many today are frustrated as while youths advocate for the reinstatement of the social safety nets, along with progressive policies to match or exceed other ‘developed nations,’ baby boomers, who make up the majority in Congress,  seem to dismiss these calls to action.

Now as my generation takes up the mantle of protests, I can not help but wonder what will become of us, and the rights we advocate for. Of course not every Boomer in the 60s was progressive and not every Boomer now is conservative, but it does make me wonder: Is my generation repeating a narrative that has already played out before?