So much, and yet so little, has changed since.
I’m sitting on a carpet, surrounded by a trio of 9-year-olds who are defining the meaning of truthfulness. They aren’t really focusing; or rather, they focus for about three minutes before offering up frankly fascinating anecdotes, and we’re all distracted again. Two of the kids are Nepali, and we’re in their house; the third is from El Salvador, but she can name Nepali dishes and movies as if she’s been there herself. “I share my dad with her,” says the Salvadorean girl, hugging her Nepali friend, whose dad has been working in India for many years. “Since her dad isn’t around, my dad takes both of us to the park and buys both of us ice cream.”
The internet keeps talking about how the world is ending. They’re comparing our current sociopolitical situation to the 1960s’ nuclear apocalypse scare, except this time it’s happening in real time on Twitter, in such a surrealistic way that it involuntarily feels like watching a dystopian sci fi movie with really bad writing.
But here, in this carpet in a tiny Massachusetts neighborhood, children gather. They know what they’re doing.
With one foot in engineering and another in humanities, career prospects are kind of a unicorn, even though they’re what’s most needed now. We keep designing things and not knowing how to talk about them; we keep developing knowledge and not knowing how to teach it. Social media upset all the elitist with their concepts of what literature is; Trump got everyone else upset equally at liberal arts and the sciences. Suddenly, we’re all the same—fighting for knowledge.
I don’t think our generation will experience the end of the world. But I do think we’ll be a generation forced to relinquish passivity.