Tag Archives: politics

Why The ‘You’re Too Young To Understand’ Argument Just Doesn’t Stand Up

I have recently encountered, in various different areas of my life, an argument being thrown around by the older generation towards my own age group, that says we are ‘too young’ to be getting  involved in serious political or social issues.  Perhaps it has been one of those things where, once you notice it happening once or twice, you start to see it all over the place.  Regardless, I find so much at fault with this mentality, so many important messages to be taken from it, that it sparked a blog post within me, so here we go!

To give some context, I thought I would talk about a couple of examples of when I have directly faced an argument like this.  The first happened a couple of weeks ago.  I have been planning a concert in London for a while now, with my newly formed, diverse and ‘cutting edge’ ensemble, Hauptstimmen.  The goal of this group of classical chamber musicians is to bring our music to a wider audience, to break down boundaries that we have experienced in our world of classical music and make it an all-inclusive art form, something that everyone can share in and take something away from.  We have organised a concert ourselves in London next week (see all the details here, please come!!), and the theme of our programme is ‘war, time and death’.  I know it sounds a little dark and depressing, but actually it is really fascinating; we are going to be performing unique music that is very rarely heard, including Gideon Klein’s string trio, which was the last piece he ever wrote, just two weeks before being deported to Auschwitz.  It isn’t just going to be a concert – it is going to be a real experience, with cool lighting, sound effects and stage design, where the audience will be encouraged to feel completely at ease with drinks and snacks and also totally engaged with our performance.  In short, this is an event that we have put a lot of thought and work into and one which we think will really create huge impact.

Now, in organising this concert, finding the right venue has obviously been extremely important – the space is paramount to the whole experience, and so it was something we knew we had to get right.  We were overjoyed to find The Red Hedgehog, a cool and intimate venue with easy access in London.  When our group leader met with the venue director, she seemed totally on board and supportive of all of our ideas, so everything looked bright for us.  Two weeks ago, we received an email from this same director and let’s just say that it completely contradicted everything that had been agreed on previously and everything we are striving to achieve.  Her overarching message to us was that we were far too young to be presenting a concert that placed war as its central theme.

My initial response to the email was anger, of course, followed by a real sense of sadness.  I felt so sad because, here is a group of young musicians who are trying to do something different and creative and combine their art with important world issues, only to be shot down by someone older and with more ‘power’.  Today, after having dwelled on it for a while, I feel so strongly the error in her way of thinking!  The fact is that war and death are very much part of our world, and unfortunately this is something that is becoming  more of a scary reality everyday.  To think that only people of a certain age should be talking about it is naive; I am in my twenties and part of a generation that will have to deal with the remnants of what is left post-Trump, or with whatever the future holds for North Korea, Syria, ISIS etc.  We are exactly the ones who need to be talking about it and understanding what is happening and why – we are the ones who can help the future.  As musicians, we have such a special way of sharing these ideas.  Through music, we can reach out to people and bring people together, we can talk about fears of war and death through our playing and use music to make it relevant to everyone, no matter their age.

The second example I wanted to mention was something that I saw on a social platform a few days ago.  A friend of mine had posted an article about veganism – a topic sure to fire anyone up, I know, and of course it did.  But the most offensive response to the article, in my opinion, was from someone from a slightly older generation who advised my friend that she was too young and shouldn’t be concerned with issues like veganism, rather she should just live her life and spend her time ‘dreaming’.  I am just so confused how anyone could suggest that talking about veganism is only for people of a certain age!  What is this age, exactly? Because I am definitely not looking forward to turning this mysterious age when suddenly the weight of the world will be on my shoulders.  And, as my friend pointed out in her reply, isn’t bringing up issues such as veganism on social media exactly what ‘dreaming’ is? Dreaming of a better world, dreaming of what the future could be.  I am not purporting to be an advocate of veganism or not – that is not the point here – only that I certainly think that anyone who wants to talk about veganism, or war, or death or any other huge political or social issue absolutely can and even that we, as young people, should!

And this ‘young’ thing… I mean, I’m 26! I am not exactly a spring chicken.  I have been old enough to vote for a long time, and I have definitely held strong political views for pretty much my whole life.  I am lucky enough to live in a society where I can freely express my views, so who is to tell me, or anyone else in my generation, that I shouldn’t because I am too young?!  In fact, in recent elections, basically all the ones where shit really started to go down, it has been shown that young people really do have a voice and really do know what they are voting for and the consequences of what they are voting for – it’s the older generations that have really screwed things up for us all.

Basically, I want to make it clear that, yes, I am young and yes, that absolutely means I will continue to use my voice and my art to share ideas and fears and issues that I believe in or that I believe are important.  I hope that if young people like me are also facing this ridiculous argument from our elders – that we are too young to be concerned with these important topics – that we can feel inspired to rise above and speak even more loudly.  Age doesn’t equal power, and with our youth comes a responsibility for the future, so let’s engage with each other NOW and make the world a better place.

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Questions on How To Use Privilege

A few days ago I had a conversation with a friend which raised many striking and, I believe, important questions.  These were questions that I really don’t have answers to, and they concern a topic which I find can often be very confusing and scary.  However, as this conversation has since stayed at the foreground of my thoughts, I felt that it could be a good idea, for me as well as for anyone else who is interested in reading this, to formulate my questions here into a blog post, in the hope of gaining some clarity and perspective.

I should probably start by stating the obvious (or what I think is obvious anyway!); I am an educated white person, I grew up in a (relatively!) financially stable household, with a supportive family who have always taken an interest in politics, current/social affairs and international news, and who uphold liberal left-wing views.  I grew up with an open outlook on the world and was taught the value of equality and acceptance.  In short, I am in a position of privilege, and I feel incredibly lucky, outrageously lucky in fact, to have had the opportunities and quality of life that I have had so far.

When I look around the world today, I find it very easy to get completely baffled by social injustice.  It is hard to understand how some can have so much, have won the golden ticket of life, while others have nothing.  But it is even more difficult to understand how the few lucky ones can be so discriminatory against those who already suffer because of their social standing.   I see racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice against people with disabilities, prejudice against particular sexual orientations and others on a daily basis, and I can’t understand what misguided, ‘fake’ information or simple lack of humanity led those people to act in those ways.

My comfy bubble of privilege is overwhelming, I don’t know what to do with it or how I should use it.  Going about my own daily life can sometimes feel incredibly trivial… practising Paganini Caprices seems pointless when I could be using my voice to fight those bigots.  My question to all you folk out there who are in the same boat as me is: how do we use our privilege to fight social injustice for a better future for our world?

I have seen the fight, I have watched people engage in debates in real life and on social media but it doesn’t seem to be working.  From my personal experience, when you try to argue with someone on Facebook or Twitter, someone who is a devout Trump supporter and in favour of the immigration ban, the transgender military ban etc. etc. it only makes them dig their heels into their beliefs more!  Sometimes it seems to me that the more criticism and backlash Trump himself gets, the harder he goes in for whatever new disastrous event he has planned next.  So, how can we, with our positions of white educated privilege, talk to these kinds of people?  How can we discuss these important issues and show them, without insulting them or angering them, that they are so wrong?  Perhaps it doesn’t have to be an argument, but rather a patient and firm education of its own?  After all, isn’t the goal in the end to break down all this social division and bring people together?

I am connected to certain people on social media which mean that I see any amount of bullshit that fits into those categories of prejudice that I mentioned above and I want to know what to do; should I just ignore it, let it slide and un-follow them – I know those people aren’t going to change their beliefs because of what I have to say to them and it most likely won’t make any difference at all – or should I try to intervene, engage in discussion/argument?  Even if it means those people want nothing more to do with me because I am a disgusting liberal to them, I have stayed true to my own beliefs and integrity so I could at least feel better within myself, right?  Do we have a duty to act when we see such nonsense? And if so, how do we even begin, what do we say?

If I am being completely honest, I think I have even felt too scared to ask these questions until now.  Somehow, in the political and social climate of today, alienation and polarisation of people feels like the biggest battle and I think this often makes us too scared to say anything at all, even if it is just to ask questions which could make us vulnerable or susceptible to criticism.

If you have any thoughts or ideas about any of the questions I have asked here, I would love to read them in the comments below.  This is a safe place where discussion is most appreciated and valued!

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