When the Supreme Court ruled Friday to end a woman’s right to an abortion, the decision compounded what some young people are expressing as a growing indifference to an otherwise bright and promising future. Their transition to adulthood, which enters somewhere between ages 18 and 21, and a time when they are legally permitted to make their own life decisions, no longer feels liberating or hopeful. The word they use to describe their outlook is “numb.”
The killing of young Black men and women by police or murders committed by other young people with guns deters their desire to explore the social lives they longed for. Clubs, concerts and parties are unsafe places to go, and so are schools, shopping malls and churches. Some are exhausted from social media’s toxic environment, proclaiming social media-free weekends as a means of reviving their spirits. They are culling their platforms and getting rid of anyone who is not a family or friend.
They’ve been told the importance of voting and encouraged to show up and show out at the polls. Yet, their votes are among those being challenged by illegitimate outcries of voter fraud and rules aimed at suppressing their newly-acquired right to vote. And the president they watched during their formative years consistently demonstrated offensive behavior leading to a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, the symbol of U.S. democracy they were taught to uphold.
Their graduation from high school or college marked an unforgettable period in everyone’s lives that kept them frightened and isolated for nearly two years due to a deadly COVID-19 virus and its aftermath. Yet, they received degrees and diplomas that will open doors to careers that, in reality, may not afford them to go to college, purchase a home, marry the person they love or plan their families.
Throughout their lives, they’ve been told they are the future. Ask them how they feel about it; all they may say or attempt to describe is “numb.” Their destiny is still in our hands and we’ve got to do better for them.