I got home from work early, and was able to watch Obama talking at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's Dream Speech. I am too young to have lived during the civil rights era. Too young to have lived during that struggle.
But tearing down is always harder than building up. And while the laws dictating discrimination could be torn down, building up a class of people that had been repressed since the birth of this nation has not gone as well. There is a lot in King's speech that has not been achieved, but it is a lot less clear how to get there.
Still, King's achievement, and the achievement of those who followed him, was very impressive. It took South Africa a lot longer to get there. And I wonder where the next good fight is- what cause could I throw myself behind? Will my generation ever have a chance to do something so great?
I have marched on Washington DC for a pro-choice march. But I have to admit, my fervor doesn't come near to the opponents of choice. And not surprisingly, we are losing ground. I have written a lot of letters to members of congress and occasionally the president on various issues. But let's face it- I am not a player. I do these things to make myself feel like my voice matters, the same way I vote- pretending that my vote matters in a nation of hundreds of millions of people.
Local politics is where it is at if you want a voice. Otherwise, there are just too many people in this world if you are an ordinary person. King was not ordinary. He was one of the few who could change the world.
I once thought that the issue of my generation would be the environment. But the problems and solutions are too complex, and require too many nations to act. It is not going to happen, not with the decisiveness and moral certainty of the civil rights era. And not with the same victory. At least not in my lifetime.