Over-Educated And Under-Worked: Why We're A Generation Of Revolutionaries

by Lauren Martin

In case you haven’t heard, the people of Ukraine just staged a major political revolution. The three-month anti-government protests have ousted president Viktor Yanukovich after a failed attempt to enter the EU and bring some economic security to the fledgling country. The opposition party has been working with parliament to establish order in the country and hopefully bring about the reform that the people so yearn for.

While it may just seem like another piece of news, this is indeed an historical and momentous event. We have just lived through a major piece of history, as a country took to the streets to overthrow a corrupt leader. Yet, how unfazed are you by this, really?

Strangely, many of us have become almost unperturbed by the talk of revolution. We hear about uprisings and government turnovers (coup d'états) and don’t give it a second thought. We hear it as another piece of news, refusing to take the time to separate it from the updates on Kim Kardashian’s engagement and the waning military stats in Iran.

Maybe it's because we lived through Arab Spring. Over the course of two years, we watched rulers forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. We saw protests in Algeria, Iraq and Jordan and uprisings in Syria and Bahrain. We watched mass riots and revolutions throughout two summers and even staged our own.

Remember Occupy Wall Street? That time when our country went into the worst recession since the Great Depression because of the abusive power of the one percent? You know, the time when all the hipsters sat on Wall Street and you thought about it but your right-winged parents said they’d be really disappointed if you joined.

If you followed the protests throughout the Arab world and the many others, you would have noticed that all these protests share similar qualities of civil resistance, along with the use of social media. They were about young people coming together for change that hadn't been assumed possible for hundreds of years. Yet, they were part of a chain reaction of something larger, something bigger than the Internet.

For Millennials, revolutions and protests are a way of life, part of our culture. We’ve become so used to protests and picket lines that we don’t bat an eye when another country erupts in political unrest. But why? What about our generation is so prone to revolution? Many say it’s social media, the presence of the interconnectedness and the ability to share our thoughts with millions.

However, social media is really just the tool for which we stage our protests and shouts of unrest. It’s the way we organize and form armies. What I’m wondering is, what has spurred this restlessness and unrest in the governments that have bore down on their parents' and grandparents' generations and those before then? Why now are people starting to demand change? What’s different about this generation? Where does our unrest come from, our refusal to accept the outdated and demand a better solution?

In an age when retirement and 401ks are distant dreams, Millennials have been forced into the unfortunate plight of being overeducated and underemployed. We’re a generation forced to sit around, thinking about our rights, the ideals of Plato and Aristotle, that introduction to Marxism and the Russian Empire 201 class, and everything else we’ve spent thousands of dollars to think about, as entry-level positions become fewer and further between.

We've been unemployed for awhile. In a time when it seems like every corner of the world is going broke (except Qatar and Switzerland), masses of young people have been forced out of jobs like never before. Coming out of college, we've been pushed into the world brimming with knowledge and energy, ready to take on life. Yet, we've found ourselves with nowhere to go and nothing to put our newfound knowledge towards.

For the first time in a long time, we're not jumping into jobs and leaving our childhood bedrooms. Instead, we're still living at home, smoking bud and listening to Bob Dylan. We're looking through our college notebooks and rereading those texts from that class on imperialist Russia.

We’ve been inundated with history, math, science, religion and philosophy, yet have nothing to do with the information but to see the unjust, the flaws, in our own world. We’ve been allowed the time to analyze the old establishments and regimes and become obsessed with the idea of changing them. We've realized that our parents were weak and we have the tools and the ability to amass thousands under a cause.

Of course, I’m not condemning our generation for this culture of rebellion, but simply stating how it came about. We are revolutionaries in our own right and the world is changing in front of us. We are unfolding chapters for our children that will bring them a new life, a fair life. We are a new type of martyr and fundamentalist.

We’ve been forced into this role, thankfully, by our predecessors. They stressed the importance of education and reform. They made us look at other cultures and different ways of life. We saw other, better, ways of living and founded new hope on what could be. We graduated from school, took the time to look around the world, and we saw that it needed changing.

Photo credit: Anastasiia Bereza