My representation of what I see as manliness in today’s generation is retired professional basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq is one of my all-time favorite players. Ever sense I was a young child that was the man I wanted to be. A three-hundred and forty pound, 7 foot tall monster of a man who absolutely dominated the court in his prime. Who had a goal in mind and achieved it. Even though I don’t play basketball anymore and I’m not 7 feet tall, I’ve come pretty close. Shaquille O’Neal Is considered one of the best centers in the NBA of all time. He was a dominating force everyone on the court knew to stay away from. In the athletic aspect of Shaquille O’Neal is what I admire so much because it what I yearn to on the football field one day. From an athletic aspect it is what I see as manliness but Shaq has so much more to him, now that he is retired he went back to school to finish his degrees which another big part of being a man intelligence. Intelligence in a man is important especially in the US. Intelligence is seen as a way to get ahead here to earn a better living hence why so many people enter college. Shaq understood that just living as a wealthy retired basketball player wasn’t what was important. What was important was his education. He understood that the life after athletics was more important than anything else. This what I have a great understanding for that as well. Shaq is also a hard worker even though he’s made millions of dollars he continues to stay active in the working force. He is now and commentator on ESPN. In the article by Strauss and Howe they describe the hero as “generation as tend to feel more attached to their fathers than their mothers, as the masculine energies of war and civic involvement are revived during a Crisis, and gender roles begin to widen. The Crisis provides Hero men with the chance to perform distinctly masculine feats of courage and prove their manliness.” I believe in a way the people of this generation do this with heroes in our lives whether they are writers, actors, professional athletes or even like they said our mom and dads. We hold up templates of them and try to sketch our lives in order to resemble theirs as much as possible. Because we see it as if it works for them we can follow that path and make it work too. We all have our own faults. I’m positive all my templates have made mistakes as well. But its our job as the new generation to learn from them, and day we could become some young child’s template.
Over the past few years the world has been erupting with revolution, people around the world are tired of not having their opinions heard or matter. Blue collar workers are tired of being seen as second class citizens working from dusk to dawn every day and having nothing to show for it. Their voices are being washed out, thrown to the side because to the men and women in power with money they mean nothing. Usually oppressed places like these go through entire generations of silence because to them this is a way of life. Its builds a mentality in which it is hard to see or shake through after staying that way for so long, many aren’t willing to step out an put themselves in the face of danger and say they’ve had enough. All it takes is one strong person to change the voice of them all, to change the voice of generations of people who saw no light at the end of the tunnel. Then several generations of oppression turn into one. Several generations forged a revolution because they all agree and see one goal. They understand what they’re after. Earlier generations were afraid to have their opinions heard because there weren’t many people to support them. It is usually newer generations who take a stand so that everyone who believes the cause becomes one fluent voice.
One of the most recent examples of social movement is the Arab Spring. It took place in Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. They focused on achieving democracy for their countries. Their defining moment as a group was when they took down their dictators or harsh governments. Multiple generations in each of these countries banded together to counteract their governments. People rose up because they were tired of being held down, forced to live their lives in fear. Not every movement ended well though some resulted in civil war. Other are still developing their own meaning of democracy. There are many different situations which can yield from change. Not all end well and not everyone is for the better. I can relate to the Arab Spring because I understand what it means to voice an opinion. I see the Arab Spring as a call from Middle Eastern nations for change, and what I’ve learned about change is that it is the one thing in the world that will remain constant because people always have hope and determination.
The case of Trayvon Martin was a very controversial case that took place in the US. The case detailed of a seventeen year old boy who was walking home at night on February 26, 2012, with his hooded sweatshirt on in Sanford, Florida. A neighborhood watchman in the area named George Zimmerman believed there was a suspicious character outside of his home, so he decided to investigate and follow Martin. Zimmerman tailed young Martin for blocks while he phoned the police. The police operator on the line warned Mr. Zimmerman to leave the so called “suspicious character” alone. He disobeyed the policeman’s orders and continued his investigation. Zimmerman confronted young Martin and in the tussle fired upon him. Police arrested Zimmerman, however then later released him due to the fact that he was defending himself. The case went to trial and the jury later decided that Zimmerman was ‘ not guilty’. Throughout the case the media’s inputs and opinions had a larger effect on the outcome of the trial then it should have. The media started their own rumors and spread the news across the nation. The Trayvon Martin case had huge effect on people all around the US.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and personal blogs have held controversial conversations by their users. Users of Facebook created multiple groups to help support the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Users of Twitter posted supporting tweets or pictures to help spread the awareness of the case. Users posted their opinions, and support to spread awareness and the reality of the grim world. Using social networks the people posted questions about the case. Questions like “How was George Zimmerman acquitted? Why didn’t he follow police instructions to stay put after the incident? How can George Zimmerman shoot an innocent teen?” These questions have some arguable answers. Most of the supporters of the case were on the side of Trayvon Martin. However these supporters do not read all the facts. What they don’t understand is “How was George Zimmerman acquitted?” The police report shows that Martin and Zimmerman had a physical altercation before the shooting. In court, the prosecutor did not have enough evidence to prove that Zimmerman shot an innocent boy. The facts show that Martin played his part in the altercation, which gave Zimmerman a reason to shoot Trayvon in self-defense based on “fear of life.” In the Florida criminal justice “fear of life” is a very difficult to prosecute defendants under. Yes, I believe that it is our right as American citizens to feel safe and comfortable in our own domains. But in the case of Zimmerman I believe that he took advantage of what the law protects. When that right is violated, we have a right to defend ourselves but within certain jurisdictions. Facts like these are ones that supporters of Trayvon Martin ignore. I’d like to stay neutral in this case, even though I am in no way shape or form in support of Andrew Zimmerman. It’s very hard to prove against what the law states is correct. In my personal opinion even hearing about this case disappoints me deeply, but it also says a lot more than the facts on the surface. I’ve learned from this case and other case situations like this that the law and justice system can’t always be seen from a black and white perspective. There are many tones of grey hidden in there as well.
Growing up in the millennial age allowed me to understand a lot of people believe that we are screwed as a generation. Kotkin believes that student debt and the job rates for our generation are beyond lousy. The average student is $25,000 in debt or more. I believe that I’ve set myself aside from our generation for a few reasons. I won’t be in massive amounts of debt after I graduate college because I go to school on a scholarship. Second, I have a chance at having a job that pays millions of dollars by working as a professional athlete. Thompson gives another perspective, by suggesting that the millennial generation is more self-centered because we’re not concerned with the health of the world. We are more concerned with our own personal gains and interests. We haven’t shown much effort when it comes to helping the rest of the world. I understand the meaning of self-sacrifice because I’m used to performing on team. This separates me from a lot of my generation because most of my generation believes what they know is always correct. They are stubborn and unwilling to takes criticism. But at the same time I can relate because I also fall into some of these faults. For example, I don’t really care about politics and I care to an extent about what happens in the world. More often than not I find myself to be concerned with video games like Battlefield 4 and UFC, television, and obviously football. Especially now that I’m in college it will have to be one of my biggest concerns since it’s becoming the biggest part of my life.
If I could change our generation I’d change things back to more of an early 20s and 30s work ethic. Everyone at that time was on the same page. They understood what needed to be done and they worked together to fix that. That’s why they’re marked as one of the best generations of all time. If we are anything we are a generation that could use some work and maybe some guidance. If we could take lessons from older generations we could probably achieve a lot more. Looked at all that we’ve done now and were aren’t even all grown up yet. Imagine if we turn that around and made a positive impact of the world.
Kotkin, Joel. “Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?” Newsweek. N.p., 16 July 2012. Web.
10 July 2014.
Thompson, Claire. “Millennial Medium Chill: What the Screwed Generation Can Teach Us
about Happiness.” Grist. Grist, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 July 2014.