By Trinh Truong 

 Clichés. We all encounter them on a daily basis. The other day, I asked one of my brightest teachers the question: “What does the future look like?” He gave me the typical and generic response. Some chit chat about how things will be worse and how we’re on a downward spiral. I really wanted to just punch him for not being bold and honest, but instead I laughed. I found this quite amusing and as I realized that the answer had nothing to do with economic, social or political conditions, I came to an epiphany that the future looks like me. It looks like my peers in the crowd right now. It looks like 3,000 kids in Proctor High School, and others alike in elementary, middle, and high schools globally. That’s right, the future looks like the students of today. And to be quite frank, sometimes I believe that the generation preceding ours forgets that.

With the economic crises and the current issues credited to the generation before my peers and I, the blame and the issues tend to be hidden from students and young people like myself. It makes sense, but then it doesn’t. Let me clarify on my logic: the typical mindset is that if it’s not our business or the blame isn’t diverted in our direction, we don’t need to know about it because it’s deemed “irrelevant.” However, that’s where it starts to not make sense. Students and youth are forgotten in the commotion and mishap when in all actuality, we should be one of the targeted demographics when dealing with dire situations so we can learn from them. It needs to be ensured that we have the necessary information and experience to see it through that this doesn’t happen in the future, when it is inevitable that we will be the ones bound to make the same mistakes. When we will have to accept accountability for our actions.

The common misconception is that the younger generation does not care. This is a myth. We are alive, blinking, listening, watching, and processing all of the data that we encounter in the world around us. In times like these, we care more than ever. The Wall Street bailouts intercepted aid that could be used to salvage and maintain the already less than decent quality of our education. Energy and oil subsidies hinder our need for a more greener, and beautiful world for future livelihoods. Trade agreements and unfair practices are exporting our already meager job prospects overseas or even into oblivion. Unconstitutional policies and political disarray has transformed our beautiful country of America into a place so unfamiliar. A world that caters to the rich and privileged has left us at a disadvantage. Corruption at all levels of government and law enforcement has almost drained us of all of our hope and faith in anything worth believing in. All of these reasons, they are some of the reasons why we occupy.

Chances are, if I drew out a Venn diagram of why the generation preceding mine occupies, and why mine does, a lot of bullets would be in the middle where the circles overlap. This says one thing that really sticks out to me: the “generational gap,” that’s a load of crap! As time goes on, predicaments and circumstances may change, but they still coincide with the same general outline. History repeats itself. Schisms are never good things, whether they are between political parties, races, genders, or generations. It’s all about coexisting and mutualism. A few months ago, the Utica City School District’s budget was proposed and made available to read. I took a glimpse, and thought out loud: “Is this real life?” Over a hundred teachers were being let go, and 22 sports teams cut. That week at school, I couldn’t get rid of the cloud over my head as I attended the classes of brilliant, young teachers that I knew would be out of a job next year. An idea quickly transpired into reality as members of Occupy Utica helped in organizing a student rally in front of the administration buildings as a show of support. In a time of much needed civil action and activism, students received the help they needed to carry out a much needed and effective demonstration, all thanks to people working together and being able to do so by forgetting about factors that set us apart, and focusing on bonds that brought us together.

Empathy and understanding will ultimately make the axles to this wheel of the world spin more smoothly. We can all struggle alone, as individuals, and fractions or we can struggle together, as many, as a whole. Division and partisanship drive barriers that are designed to split us up and weaken us. Division and partisanship are more dangerous than any rubber bullets, smoke bombs, tear gas, zip ties, batons and riot shields can ever be. We are all the 99%, and we must stand in solidarity as sisters and brothers in order to achieve any ounce of success. As the saying goes, together we are unstoppable, another world is possible.

Hey, I’m Trinh. You could say I’m the young padawan of Occupy Utica. I have an immensely strong attachment to the French Enlightenment and philosophy. I love food… For thought. You can find me vehemently hammering out lengthy rants online or you’ll hear me raving loudly outside of the pixels that comprise the internet. Either way, I’m quite verbose. And idealistic. I don’t have much of a filter and my humor is the polar opposite of apropos. Oh, and I’m one of those “corrupted youth.” Enchanté.