4 min readThe world is grieving: What it means for future generations

As the institutions built by older generations start to crumble, the youth of today must begin to build new, and hopefully better, institutions.

According to the latest Gallup Global Emotions Report, people around the world are becoming more angry, stressed, and worried, this despite the majority of respondents having a considerable amount of enjoyment the day before the survey was conducted. Stress levels around the world were also found to be at a new high, and levels of worry and sadness has increased. Though Gallup did not attempt to explore the causes of such negative emotions, Remy Blumenfield, a grief counsellor, may have an explanation.

In his article published by Forbes, Blumenfield says that people who are unusually angry, depressed, and in general, in disagreement for the way things are, are experiencing grief. He explains that grief can happen, not only to people whose loved ones have passed on, it can also happen due to world events. Blumenfield explains, “It could be that you feel an important avenue has become closed off to you, or that something is standing between yourself and your deeply held values”. All these experiences and emotions can all lead to grief.

Why It Matters

Why would people today feel grief? Taking Blumenfield’s explanation of why grief expresses itself, it then becomes clear. The rapid changes in society, brought about by technology, the increasing instability in our political institutions, and the widening social gaps, are all eroding the comfortable and the familiar.

In just a decade we have been subjected to many highly traumatic experiences – the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the subsequent wars that arose out of it, the Great Recession of 1999, Brexit, the continuing war in Syria, the millions of refugees forced to flee their home countries in search of safety, and the lack of data privacy on the internet. Millenials, the youth of today, grew up in a highly conflicted world. On one hand is the great comfort offered by technology, on the other, is the realization that much of the freedoms they are now enjoying come at a high cost. They grow up knowing that every food they purchase from the supermarket could ultimately harm marine life, that while they scream for change in their social media accounts, they have no real capacities to truly implement the change they want to see in the world.

As the institutions built by older generations start to crumble, the youth of today must begin to build new, and hopefully better, institutions. The hope is that these new institutions will be respectful, not only of the rights of people from different races, but also of nature and all its creations. By nature, millenials are empathetic and intuitive. Most, if not all, have an intuitive grasp of what is wrong in the world, and have an innate desire to change it. The problem is that there are major obstacles to change.

For one, technology has both enabled and disabled future generations. New capacities for accessing knowledge through the internet has brought to light many conflicting truths. Overreliance on technology for education has prevented children from learning through their experience, and in effect, has prevented them from learning how to integrate various information and contextualize knowledge.

Growing up with technology, the youth of today know first hand where extreme mechanization can lead us. To retain power, big businesses must dis-empower future generations by providing enough distractions so that they do not pay attention to the concerns that truly matter. This is what the widespread anger and depression is all about – the youth feeling the need for change, but not having the power to actually command that change. The question is, when will this cycle end?

The older generation has a responsibility to the younger ones, who are not yet fully awake to their own capacities. We must, in a sense, hold the torch, and pave the way until they are able to discover who they truly are, and why they were born in this world. In the midst of fake news, confusing information, and all the hate, we must continue to see that the social decay we are experiencing right now is something to celebrate. It marks the beginning of something new.

But we cannot “wait and see” for whatever will emerge. It is up to us, those who can already see the direction all these processes are going, to act. The challenges we face today, AI [see AI And The Future of Humans], climate change, mechanization of the human body [see Atlas And The Quest To Build A Human-Like Robot], gene editing [see What Does It Mean To Be Human In The Face Of Gene Editing?] will change the face of society and humanity. We must, from this point on, safeguard our children’s future so that they may still have the real freedom to create a society that can uphold what it means to be truly human.

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