Between the common folk of today and the people that lived perhaps centuries ago, what is one major difference?
While there may be different schools of thought as to the answer to this question, one aspect we will discuss here is the increase in political diversity.
It is undeniable that people these days tend to have more widespread views regarding political stances. People have, in general, become increasingly accepting of a more diverse scene, such as advocating for minorities and the marginalized. Part of this can be attributed to greater visibility in the media through the use of technology. Instead of parents passing down discriminative and prejudiced views to their children, people are instead reading up on matters themselves and understanding the different viewpoints presented on the Internet. As a result, this phenomenon has shaped the general citizen’s view of political matters.
While some governments have also become more open to such issues, such as more American states recognizing same-sex marriage, other countries remain traditional and adhere to their old political views. This causes some discrepancies between the views of common folk and those in power. In particular, this can result in some people being discontented with how their government is handling certain matters, and thus lead to disinterest or unrest in the political views of common folk.
Centuries ago, the common folk followed, without question, the traditions that had been set in place. Perhaps it was because people were less educated then and did not feel it was their place to challenge their authorities, or perhaps people held fast to their beliefs with little opportunity to see the world. For example, people in the United States believed in white privilege. Many things were set apart for “white” and “colored” people, such as having different seating sections in public transport, different doors for people of each race to enter through, and different wages as well as human rights. People of color were discriminated against, assaulted, bullied at school, and even murdered. It took brave acts from people such as Rosa Parks to face the injustice and question why the laws were the way they were.
Today, while racism still exists in some form, the community today is generally more accepting of others than the community was even just in the last century. While it is anyone’s guess why people’s attitudes have changed over time, I believe this was in some part thanks to the spread of the Internet. Nowadays, we have access to a wealth of information online about human rights and what racism meant for the people discriminated against. People of all races use the Internet and communicate with one another online. Improved education has helped to increase people’s understanding of minorities. Due to advances in technology, we can now travel across the world and visit many different countries where the majority of people are of different races and cultures. Additionally, many countries have formed alliances or unions with one another, and today we rely on people of all races worldwide to maintain a sustainable economy.
If the discrimination that existed in the 20th century was still present in its magnitude today, people would be more likely to speak out against it due to these changes that have helped us to understand other cultures better. In the past, only a handful of people could both see the fault in the situation and have the courage to challenge it. Today, however, there would probably be an increasing number of people who would rather resist such laws than follow the ruling party’s commands.
All of this has worked out for cases such as white privilege, which has mostly been eradicated from legal issues these days, giving everyone more or less fair human rights regardless of their race.
However, when it comes to other issues that some governments may be slow in addressing, this can cause the phenomenon of the disaffected citizen – a representation of the common folk that have differing political views from that of their country’s authorities, who then become uncaring and dismissive towards topics concerning laws and politics.
With the visibility of social media today, it is probably not difficult at all to make a public protest. If human rights advocates from the past had the tools we have today, they would likely have found it easier to explain their cause and rally people over to their side. However, is that what is happening?
It is unlikely people agree with every aspect of their legislation’s laws. Despite that, most of the common folk are content to sit by and speak about their discontent to anyone who would listen, but they do not take action like the advocates in the past had to.
Perhaps being passive may well be a good thing. If every one of us spoke out about every point we were unsatisfied with, the world may become a much louder place, and it is unlikely legitimate requests would get across then. Most of us have access to our own spaces online to discuss topics that interest us. Most of us read about what is happening in the world around us, but there is not much we can do about it, short of disrupting our daily lives to meddle in an affair that does not directly impact us.
Nations today are still at large. Civil wars are raging in some areas, protests in others. Problems such as child labor are still ongoing in different parts of the world, but for the disaffected citizen in an urban world, this is largely classified as “not my problem”. Besides putting in kind words to an organization or contributing a small donation, what else can we do? Does technology empower us any more than introducing us to different ideas and concepts, all while keeping the power to act just out of our reach?
We read about all these global happenings daily, but aside from sparing the affected parties a few good thoughts, we are essentially helpless. The Internet crowds around bad news, spreading headlines and stories around to spark awareness. However, what happens next after exposure?
In light of this, are the people of today much different than the people of the last century? Our political stances may have shifted, but are our resultant actions any different? Do we do anything other than realize just how much things should be changed, and how little we can do?
Nov 12, 2019