Every month we Sublime regular contributors get an email from the lovely editor that contains a theme or statement that is intended to stimulate us to produce our column. This time it went: the theme of the November issue is People of Hope. People of Hope is to talk about ‘change makers’, the raising of a new generation that wants to see great transformation in the world. As usual, something in an email from Sublime stimulated thought and private debate. Yes we all hope for a better future. We all hope that our country comes out of its economic downturn. We all hope that the next government will make “our lot” better than the previous government. We hope for an end to greed, an end to poverty and for a more tolerant and inclusive society. We all hope that Global Warming doesn’t negatively impact on our lives. All this well meaning “hope” is undoubtedly a sign that society is thinking the right thoughts, but is that enough? Is all this “hope” a sign that an inert generation that accepted the status quo, that ignored its right to vote and withdrew from political discourse, that escaped into a vapid world of reality TV, is finally about to do something that will allow it to have a say in its future? I for one, bloody well hope so.
I question what the parents of the 70’s children did to nurture kids that became so disenfranchised and willing to just accept and to “hope”. It is no use just bemoaning the fact that political turnout in the UK has fallen from 76% when I was first eligible to vote in 1979 to 59% when Labour came to power in 2001.Only a third of 18 to 24 year olds believe that people had an obligation to vote compared to four fifths of those 65 and over. What’s worse is that past trends show that generations don’t significantly change their views on this so we have to “hope” that this trend is reversed or “hope” that the younger generations have a new cunning plan to enfranchise themselves.
It’s no use blaming politicians for being “indistinguishable”, “greedy”, “and grey” and then “hoping”. We need a generation who want to join local government and help to shape a better tomorrow on the micro level. We need creative minds to become town planners who want to put right the mistakes of the greedy town cramming of the past decades. We need free thinkers to aspire to work for Housing Associations in order to enable the delivery of desperately needed affordable housing. We need sharp and savvy minds to aspire to become MP’s and shape things on a macro level. While the trend in the past decade has been for graduates to opt for the “sexy” professions that get peer respect, (creative industries, marketing, PR, media) the tide might be changing. One of the positives of the recession is that the instability of the commercial sector has pushed graduates into the more stable, and what is traditionally considered ‘staid’, safe house that is the public sector. If this trend remains as the creatives, who in the past have sought to break into the media, start moving into the civil service and government then there is a small chance there will be change on the horizon. In 2008 the civil service went from eighth most popular destination for graduates to fourth. Education also went from seventh to sixth. (Ref. for Editor: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/career_and_jobs/graduate_management/article5315063.ece)
However the likelihood is that when things pick up economically people with a proclivity for creativity will start rushing back to commercial and media work and we’ll be back to square one. The reason for the rise in the popularity of public sector work is not down to a change in mind-set of this generation and the desire for a better society but the practicality of playing it safe in these harsh economic times.
I hope that the current “political” (with a small p) generation that allows Sublime to thrive in the midst of economic downturn will spawn a “Political” (with a big P) generation that realises that “hope” is not enough. I can actually do more than “hope” that this happens. I’m off to talk to my children about it and hope that something resonates with them.