In my last post, “Our Children Are At Great Risk From Recent World Events,” I presented a dark assessment of the current state of affairs. The overall conclusion of the piece was that the next generation of Americans would not be as fortunate as the current one. I discussed nuclear threats, paralysis in Washington, disease, economic malaise and religious fanaticism, all distressing phenomena in the minds of most.
The people who commented on the post agreed that times are tough and attaining happiness prospectively will not be easy. But, they were upbeat about the next generation’s ability to respond to forthcoming challenges.
Upon reflection, I wanted to indicate that I am in tune with this more optimistic worldview. American’s “can do” spirit will enable our country to recover and prosper as it has done repeatedly in the past.
As I look back to earlier days, I vividly recall the frustration and fear that influenced the lives of most young men who turned 18 as the Vietnam War raged on. Frankly, my peers and I believed that there was a high probability that we would be drafted into military service and die a violent death in a far-off land. And so, we protested and developed a live for today philosophy. Many lives were lost in that horrible confrontation. Yet, America did recover.
The civil rights movement was in full throttle during the same era. Peaceful demonstrations by African Americans, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and his disciples, were assailed with fire hoses, beatings and attack dogs. There is still a lot of work to be done racially, but progress has been made.
In the past, women stayed at home, raised the kids and cooked meals. When they did venture into the workplace they were underpaid relative to their male counterparts. Females have made up a lot of ground over the last half-century, as many now work alongside their spouses. Equal pay is around the corner, and the glass ceiling is broken every day.
And finally, gay couples are on the verge of receiving the rights and benefits that accrue to traditional families after a long and hard fought battle. True equality is close, and in a short period of time, every person in America will be able to select a partner without any retaliation, restriction or prejudice.
Millennials are on deck to assume the leadership of America. It has been difficult for them to find jobs, move out of their parents’ homes, pay off their student debt and start families. Much of their angst correlates to economic conditions. Deep down, we know America is resilient, and it will rebound from the Great Recession.
The Millennials will have to contend with a plethora of issues that arose after 9/11. Some were not old enough to appreciate the enormity of that horrible event, but it continues to affect all Americans and peace-loving people around the world. A derivative impact of the attack has been an ongoing debate about civil liberties, an area in which Millennials have take a lead role. Do Americans want more liberty or more security? You cannot have both, so priorities must be established. The debate about privacy is becoming more contentious every day.
Another issue that has become more controversial is the impact of social media on our daily lives. My observation is that we all have gone too far in our desire to be connected every minute of every day. Yet, this connection is not physical or even face-to-face; it is through devices. Young people, in particular, are lost in the “cloud” and glued to computer screens and iPhones. They say that social media has made them more “social.” I say ten close friends are more valuable than 200 people who have befriended you on Facebook.
The Internet has made young people more introverted. They whine about injustice in their texts. They go to war on the Internet with people they do not like. It’s like a virtual world. Problems are better resolved in the old fashioned way- sitting around a conference table. Does anyone really believe the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or the humanitarian tragedies we witness every day can be rectified with text messages and twitters? Not I.
The time is drawing close when Millennials must stop complaining and start taking action with their newfound responsibilities, authority and political clout. They will marry, have high paying jobs and lead our government and major corporations. No longer will this group be protesting; they will be implementing change and rectifying the problems created by their predecessors. And, I am sure they will bring glory back to America with their intellect, perseverance and creativity.