Today I voiced it for the first time to a friend on yet another Zoom call. Three words I thought were inconsolable, end-game even. They had been traipsing my mind for a week, but I had been too scared to say them out loud. As a singer, whose cultural currency, whose career relies on it, they felt large. It felt like if I said them; I was throwing my decade of efforts to the wind, giving up, like I was done.
What were those three words? "I feel irrelevant."
I wrote a pop song called ‘We Are The Youth’. I wrote about how it feels to be a young person living in a time of complete and utter inaction on the fronts of climate and action and first peoples' rights and respect in my country. I thought it would strike a match up to the flame of anger that I know so many of us are feeling. I laboured over it, like it might be some blue pill to take away the relentless feeling inside of me I wasn’t doing enough, about anything. I thought I would feel some relief, even for a moment, but I didn't. I thought it would take me somewhere further along some magical path I imagined - closer to making some kind of change that I could touch or see, but it hasn’t.
Watch Jack River's 'We Are The Youth'. Post continues below.
But at the heart of it, I have been left feeling irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant. My concern as a young person for the environmental and economic tipping point we are at, for my future, feels irrelevant.
My concern for First Nations voices in parliament, for First Nations leaders to be heard, feels irrelevant; it feels like nobody of note is replying to their call.
As a young woman, speaking up to a sea of men in seats of power - I feel irrelevant. I feel irrelevant to our national story - whatever it is; I feel irrelevant to the government, irrelevant to the media, and by association - I am beginning to feel irrelevant to the people that make up these systems.
After I said it out loud, I began to wonder. If I feel like this, about one little song, how are others feeling right now? If I commit hardcore to feeling irrelevant, who else is in this club? Why do we feel like this? And what happens next?
The more I thought about it, the more I realised how much what I was feeling was reflected in the feelings of my generation. Across the country young people are working to try to build a better future in a system that doesn’t permit them to make change.
Irrelevant, whilst I am sure you know the meaning, is a sense of disconnection. Like what is being sold to us, is not what is in the package. Like a friend who tells you one thing, and does another.
To take just one example, look at the young First Nations leaders spearheading the fight against Big Gas in the Beetaloo Basin. Origin Energy is preparing to frack thousands of square kilometres of their country. Despite the practice of hydraulic fracturing being outlawed in many countries due to the dangers it places on communities and water supplies (UK, France, Denmark, Switzerland), the NT Labor Government and the federal Liberal Government forge ahead, knowing the opposition of traditional owners. How do traditional owners feel in the face of the government shoveling billions of taxpayers' dollars into undermining continued relationships with their land, their communities and their water? Do they feel irrelevant to the media, unheard by voters? I can only imagine so.