Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Retaining Social Progressivism as a Goal for Last Year of the 20s

There is one trend that has often been proven to be true in the field of political science.  That is the idea that older members of a particular society, when holding everything else constant, tends to be more conservative in ideology compared to more youthful counterparts.  In fact, even when looking at any particular neighborhoods, as the population grows older, political leanings move to the right.  On economic issues, older people tend to, as compared to youths, oppose in greater numbers high taxes and income redistribution, while on social issues, they oppose homosexuality, abortion, and marijuana legalization.

The supposed lack of "progressiveness" among the older members of a particular society is often attributed to different social environments that the older and younger members of society grew up in.  It is argued that since society in general was more socially conservative in the past, people who grew up in the past tend to retain mainstream ideas from back then.  Logically, as the ideological mainstream shifts to the left in the recent years, the youth today would of course become more left-leaning by default, and they will retain their progressive attitudes even as they get older.

However, the above argument cannot explain the presence of massive counterculture movements that was mainstream among the youths in the past.  Hippies in the 70s were not simply a fringe minority in the US and elsewhere but had real political power and independent culture.  Without protests from open-minded youths embracing liberal ideas, anti-war sentiments would not have been strong enough to end the Vietnam War, for instance.  If people retain same political ideologies throughout their lives, then many young hippies from the 70s would be old hippies that lead the liberal side of the political spectrum today.

But the reality is quite different.  As hippies became older, they gradually abandoned their cherished ideologies from youthful years.  Having economic success and their own families turned them from those who seek to overthrow the establishment to those who try their best to retain their esteemed positions within the status quo.  And for they to remain on the top, there has to be concrete actions to prevent socialist policies to take their power and wealth just to be handed out to others.  Anyone who are different from them, socially or economically, would have to be seen as nascent threats and opposed.

Thus, in any age and time, the older members of the society would seek to keep society and their values as it is while the young ones will seek change.  The elders are motivated by defense of their own, present positions within society, rather than whatever they were taught to believe when they are younger.  The change from the young rebel to the older status quo-seeker begins after a few years of working professionally and accumulating assets, economic and otherwise.  Once people have enough to lose, they will do whatever they can to defend what they have now.

The author, for instance, is quickly reaching that age of turning conservative.  After years of work, financial assets in stocks and savings require predictable economic environments unbothered by disruptive social experiments.  Investments in education and on-the-job trainings need to be recouped in environments where skills learned and experiences gained need to remain relevant and valuable.  For whatever change that may bring improvements to the economic realities on the ground, there are certain risk-averseness down under that hopes any change that does happen stays minimal so that the general environment remains familiar and navigable.

Yet such risk-averseness runs counter to the kind of life that the author wants to live, not just as a globetrotting youth but even as an accomplished professional.  Past years of experience has created a kaleidoscope of different locations and industries, giving an impression of someone who thrives on change.  No matter how much the mentality changes, that resume cannot and will not.  Hence, for the author to remain relevant in the world, the world needs to continue embracing change, the bigger, more comprehensive, the better.

The first step is for the author himself to remain open to change.  If he cannot continue to be socially progressive and open-minded, then he certainly cannot and should not expect the world to embrace someone who has been so concentrated on being in different parts of the world in the past years.  In other words, unlike others, the author has a fundamental stake, professionally speaking, in the world remaining in flux; it is only way that he can continued to be valued for who he is and has become.  In the last year of his 20s, it is something that is worth reminding and keeping in mind.  

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