This sad commentary on American youth harks back to a famous quote from Kennedy’s inaugural speech in 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy set up the Peace Corps as a structure for idealistic youth to “serve their country” and make the world better.
The couch potato in the cartoon is not selfishly asking what his country can do for him, but neither is he signing up to do anything organized or sacrificial for his country, like entering the Peace Corps or even volunteering to man a polling place on election day.
He is not thinking about his country at all. His country is part of the real world, and this guy has traded the real world for the virtual world, except for the bowl of real snack food.
Of course, he may still imagine that he is as idealistic as American youth were in 1961, and he may be right. The current generation is refreshingly more interested in social causes than the previous one. Celebrities appear on talk shows to advocate for their pet causes, and they compete on game shows to raise awareness and win money for them. Universities and companies advertise causes they support.
The trouble is that these are niche causes, and they are all competing for our support. We don’t have causes that unify society, only causes that organize one segment of the society against others. The people winning elections are extremists who promise not to negotiate, not moderates who aim to build a unified center in the political sphere through dialogue.
Worst of all, these many causes create enough background noise that millions of people of all ages remain clueless about the most important campaign of 2024.
That campaign is not the Trump campaign, the Biden campaign or any other political campaign. It is not the military campaign in Gaza or Ukraine. It is not the campaigns about abortion, immigration reform, or racism. It is not the campaign to slow global warming or affirm LGBTQ rights. It is not the campaign against AIDS, or drunk driving, or mass shootings.
The most important campaign of 2024 is the campaign that can save the kid on the couch from himself. Other campaigns might succeed in getting him off the couch and away from Netflix for real world engagement, but none would be doing it because they cared about him. They only want his support. That makes them second-class campaigns as far as his welfare is concerned.
A first-class campaign would be one that unselfishly aimed at him as a friend, not a resource. It would have realistic ways for him to discover authentic, fulfilling life and leave his couch potato life behind. That would make it the most important campaign in our campaign-infested world.
Does any such campaign exist? Absolutely! And it has a free on-boarding process from Jan. 1 through Feb. 13th this year. If you aren’t clued in to it yet, click here to preview “Life Season” at SYNCx.org. And if you discover you are already part of this global movement even though you haven’t been talking about it as a “campaign,” God bless you.