Children of the revolution that never came

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The 1972 hit single ‘Children of the Revolution’ topped the charts long before the success of Bono’s cover in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. T Rex’s song about teenage rebellion and the protest culture of the sixties and seventies stuck two fingers up at authority:

You won’t fool the children of the revolution

But they were fooled. They were duped into believing that fighting on the right side, the good side, of any moral dilemma meant they were owed an eventual victory. The end of war, inequality, racism, sexism and homophobia: all of it was in sight.

My parents’ generation were anti-apartheid, anti-Vietnam, anti-nuclear arms – fighting for the rights of women, ethnic minorities and homosexuals – who felt they could make a real difference. And they did. Yet despite their struggles and their protests these issues are still prominent throughout the world. Our generation is disappointed.

If they were the protest generation, then we are the generation of the disillusioned.

We have come to realise that there is less potential for good than they used to believe. It’s not only their inability to solve the Rubix Cube of problems the world faces that has disenchanted us but also our own failures. We were supposed to conquer the world, become rich, have families, vacations overseas, interesting careers and second homes. Anything less was unthinkable.

We’re under the spell of a collective depression, a self-absorbed and narcissistic lethargy that has become pandemic and pathological. We are mourning the loss of the house we will never buy, the career we will never have and along with it a vain perception of our future selves that will never be realised. We are depressed because we have been proved wrong and because the visions we had for ourselves as children may now be unfeasible.

The lyrics to Children of the Revolution sound bitter and sarcastic to our ears rather than hopeful.

Lulled to sleep instead, by the reassuring words of Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Don’t You Worry Child’, it is time to wake up and recognise our disillusionment for what it is.

A sign that life has been harder on us than we thought and that we were unprepared.

It has been our choice to remain sorry for ourselves, disheartened and inconsolable and now it can be our choice to take inspiration from the protest generation, to look beyond our individual grievances and take action.

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