Whether or not it meant to, The Washington Post just blew minds with its latest chart on how much of our lives in America has been spent at war. Not only is it particularly depressing for young people, but we think it explains a lot.
The Washington Post‘s investigation was prompted Martha Raddatz’ commencement speech at Kenyon College. In the speech, she recalled how the college grads were probably about nine or 10 when 9/11 happened and how that moment marked the start of their spending half their lives living in an America at war. Except, that wasn’t 100 percent accurate. College graduates are about 22 years old, meaning they were born in ’93. According to the Post‘s graph, the “War on Terror” has actually taken up 65 percent of their lives.
That fact is truly shocking, but we were in real awe when we looked at the chart and realized the percentage is even worse for younger people. Our 12-year old-niece, born in 2003, has lived 100 percent of her life in an America engaged in war.
Despite the fact that these wars haven’t been fought on home turf doesn’t necessarily change how it affects each generation. We seem to not have any trouble feeling empathy for our grandparents, who lived during WWI and WWII. We recognize that violence left scars on them, whether they witnessed it at home or not. But consider this: If they’re 91-ish right now, born in 1924, the long stretches of peaceful times between Korea and Vietnam and between Vietnam and the Gulf War help to lower their wartime ration to 37 percent. Even our parents, at 63 and just retired, experienced only a slight increase from their parents’. Meanwhile, if you’re 30, like the average SheKnows writer, your wartime experience is bumped up to 50 percent of your life. That’s a lot of violence in one short life.
These aren’t just interesting numbers, y’all. Think about what this means for our society. We’re raising children in a world where peace isn’t an answer; it’s an ideal they’ve yet to experience. While our parents mostly turned to books and movies to find excitement and understand turmoil, we need only to turn on the news and flip through social media. Certain forces within our country love to blame American violence and youth hostility on video games. But be real. Even when millennials have turned off Call of Duty, they’ve been badgered by images of war and violence on the news. We’ve lost friends and siblings to the wars politicians have started and refused to end. Fighting aliens on Halo has nothing on what Americans have witnessed in the real world. Blaming our hostility on anything other than the politicians who put us in this position is downright criminal and entirely misleading for the sake of someone else’s agenda.
Of course, we recognize this can’t be the only cause for violence. Mental illness and a history of violence in a home can also spur people into doing terrible things. We’re only suggesting that these numbers seem striking enough to be considered next time we start throwing around blame for violent youth.
Disagree with our assessment? Take a look at the The Washington Post‘s graph (link above), and then respectfully share your issues in the comments section.