Unintended Consequences and the Need for Understanding
Years ago, I learned that highlighting a problem without providing a solution was a fruitless act because it would inevitably happen again, and purposely avoiding the process of creating a strategy for change just means you want to complain.
For the past few years, we’ve watched the “woke” brazenly infiltrate government, corporations, and media, influencing how the American public discusses social issues and even altering the vocabulary we use for our most sensitive conversations.
With such intrusive cultural changes, there will always be a countermovement that’s prepared to battle for the restoration of their society. However, our anti-woke counterinsurgency has had unintended consequences as we’ve destroyed our diplomatic relationship with the very population we need as our allies: the American youth.
At times, the anti-woke soldiers involved in the culture war bombard the woke opposition with relentless mockery and jabs directed at their generation, yet take no regard for the youthful bystanders who may be injured by their insult-laden ageist shrapnel.
I believe there’s a fundamental question the political right and anti-woke left should have inquired on from the very beginning of our conflict: What about “social justice” is attractive to our youth? Instead, we’ve operated with a foolish strategy of irresponsibly attacking our ideological foes and declining to understand what motivates them.
The woke doctrine has been able to spread seamlessly among Generation Z and younger Millennials not simply because of forced indoctrination but also by appealing to their desire to be the change agents for their future society. It’s no different from the youthful hippies of the 1960s who wanted an end to the Vietnam war and harbored love for all humanity—the social justice movement promises the same feeling of unifying purpose and righteousness for our younger generations.
We often frame our young people as self-indulgent narcissists who can’t help taking selfies of themselves while we simultaneously overlook how they’re one of the most socially conscious and benevolent generations. Social justice is enticing to them because it provides a purpose for the purposeless and an understandable solution-oriented vision to address the world’s ills.
When they scroll through social media and see a knee on the neck of George Floyd, they want to know what they can do to prevent it from happening again. When it appears as if everyone is warning them about the impending doom of climate change, they don’t want to be the ones who sat idly by and did nothing to prevent a tumultuous future.
As the woke ideologues are acknowledging their anxiety surrounding social issues and supplying them with a plan of action to course correct, the political right far too often disregards their concerns by stating that there aren’t any to stress over and imploring them to continually accept the status quo.
Conspiracy theories must possess a grain of truth, otherwise they’re viewed as complete fiction manufactured by an insane person, and it’s no different for the social justice ideology. For example, there’s a grain of truth in what they’re stating about the historical oppression of different demographics in America. But the problem is that they’re often wildly exaggerated, and they make illogical correlations to push their agenda.
Despite this, at least they’re speaking to the fears of many young people in our society and providing some sort of solution because the opposition isn’t. We’re not even attempting to learn to speak their language before invading them with an infantry armed with rhetorical insults surrounding their youthful ignorance.
We’re not convincing anyone by telling them that there isn’t anything wrong and they should shut up and listen to the adults in the room. Our young people aren’t dumb, they’re just inexperienced, and it’s our responsibility to help guide them, not dismiss them.
We complain about how woke our young people are but avoid providing them with an alternative strategy to remedy the problems they believe exist in our society. Instead, we mock their TikTok videos, chuckle as Ben Shapiro tears them to pieces in collegiate debates, and roll our eyes when we hear them express their angst about potential future prosperity.
The political right is mistaken when they believe that the only reason our young people are attracted to the left is that they’re promising “free stuff.” On the contrary, it’s because they are constantly acknowledging their presence, gladly speaking their language, and providing them a strategy to combat something they have no experience in mitigating.
Our war-ready demeanor has led to us creating youthful casualties, forcing some of them to vengefully choose radicalization instead of siding with the culture warriors who recklessly wounded them, and drone-struck their generation’s namesake.
If we fight too long, it’ll no longer be about the win but about the fight.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.