During an era in which political discussions and debate have become more heated and polarizing, some would argue that the “older generation” is pulling most of the weight. Many have suggested that America’s problems and challenges are brought on by the apathetic nature of today’s Twentysomethings.
As a millennial who was born just before the infamous dot-com bubble, I believe these arguments are far from the truth.
As an observer and guest speaker at Las Vegas area high schools, I submit to you that there’s a genuine eagerness and hunger within my generation. We are looking to make a stand and to fight for what we believe to be right.
Never had I witnessed such enthusiasm as I did when President Barack Obama ran for president in 2008. It was certainly an era of great tumult and consternation, as the nation was reeling from an economic downtown the likes of which it had not seen since the crash of 1929. It was a time during which youths of all socioeconomic backgrounds jumped on the political bandwagon. I had been politically engaged before Mr. Obama’s tenure, but I too, was swept up in the frenzy to establish our generation’s footprint.
For the vast majority of young adults, challenges remain and financial uncertainties are a top concern. I contend that it is because of these longstanding challenges that my generation is more eager, energized and able to fight a “status quo” that we feel has left us stranded on an island of social and economic inequity.
Baby Boomers may or may not agree with our engagement efforts, lobbying or protests — however, it is engagement nonetheless. I am a product of this generation’s concerns and the shared social plight that plagues far too many of us. The America we know today was brought about via the outcry and political stubbornness of past generations. And so today, we continue to see the exchange of ideas and freedom of expression that was necessary in the mid-20th century to end the detestable treatment of African-American communities.
During my tenure as a city park commissioner, and while serving on other local boards, I quickly realized that there were countless youth who were not only engaged politically, but were also engaged in student activities. Such activities included submitting proposed school projects that were designed to benefit local schools and surrounding neighborhoods. During that time, it was my duty to oversee grant proposals that I would then forward to the City Council for consideration. My colleagues and I were always impressed with the caring and activities brought forth by grade-school students.
These experiences have benefited me, and should serve as a testament to past generations that there’s always room for optimism. For far too long, people have generalized my generation as tiresome, disinterested and — in some cases — useless. As I learned in school, we must qualify our responses. We must qualify our statements when it comes to describing people and groups.
As a public servant, I have been privy to the genuine concern and love of people from other people. Whether they are colleagues of mine at City Hall, or simply young residents who call Las Vegas their home, there is a deep concern and willingness to stand up for each other and apply oneself for the greater good of this city.
Some in my generation pursued their career in the Armed Forces or policing, while I pursued local politics and constituent outreach. In the end, we all want what’s best for each other. If our forefathers disagree, then they too, can become politically engaged and make their presence known.
David Lopez, a graduate of Valley High School and UNLV, is a former commissioner for the Las Vegas Department of Parks and Recreation. He served as park commissioner representing the city’s easternmost ward from 2011-2017.