About five months ago, I finally got around to reading Ian McEwan’s ‘Nutshell’, a novel about a foetus witnessing his mother and her lover’s ploy to murder his father. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I finished it with a slight bitter taste in my mouth: I couldn’t help but notice the complete and utter contempt the author seemed to aim at society; namely the youth. He seemed to blame young people for everything wrong in the western world – which is ironic, considering that every war being fought, every malnourished child, every bigot chanting on the streets is due to decisions made — or not made — by people from his, and previous generations.
Even the issues he seems to have with the young (our supposed intolerance and our apparent lack of intellectual curiosity) are in part because of his generation: the people who raised us. They are also the ones who have created this modern society that is so unequal, it can easily be infiltrated by ill-intentioned demagogues’ who preach hatred in the darkest corners of society, until that hatred rises to the top and is almost impossible to defeat. If the so called ‘grown-up’ and so called ‘rational’ generation had dealt with people’s grievances properly, instead of handing them scapegoats such as immigration, as a distraction from the real, glaring issue of neo-liberalism – my generation wouldn’t have to fight to right their wrongs.
In the book, Mr McEwan takes time out of his otherwise engaging story to call young people ‘social justice warriors’ – as if this is some kind insult, as if we should be ashamed of that. What he, and people like him don’t understand is that this new generation is proud of this association. We are proud to be known as actively fighting to make the world a safer place for everyone who inhabits it; even without the power and influence that our politicians enjoy.
The injustice we witness on a daily basis is so overwhelming, so hard to dismiss, that we have no other choice but to act. Unfortunately, due to our young age, the only weapons we have our physical bodies. So, we will march, we will shout at the top of our lungs and we will protest — until the world sees us and hears our chants — until things finally begin to change.
Written by, Maureen Tuyishime