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The New Generation Gap
I was having a conversation with my nephew, from the Millennial generation (b1982-2003?), at Thanksgiving dinner and realized that there was a major misunderstanding between Millennials (Mills) and older generations. The Mills don’t want to listen to the older generations because we are
- so cynical
- constantly communicating that America is doomed.
I want to dispel the rumor that America is doomed. Perhaps we are at the top of a creek without a paddle; however, this is normal. We seem to find our way to this stream like clockwork, every 80 years or so since the creation of this country. America will emerge victorious and we, as a country, are heading towards a new and better future. What I’ve been trying to convey, since 2003, to the Mills and anyone who wanted to listen is that
- we were heading into a financial crisis and an era that can be defined as Winter;
- the winter era would be very difficult and life as we knew it would change.
What I haven’t communicated is that everything will be fine when it’s over. The cycle will continue from winter to spring. The era of spring may not arrive until 2024, but it will come. The Mills have many talents, one being that they fix society from a civic perspective. Where baby boomers emphasized the individual and rebelled against their civic-minded fathers (the GI generation), the Mills will rebuild the broken systems that baby boomers and Xers left behind them, but focusing on the community, not the individual. Additionally, the Mills will soar in math and science. The exhaustion of mathematicians and scientists over the past 30 years has caused much consternation.
Yet this is a normal cycle that is found within the archetype of each of the four generations that are born again and again in the United States. Some generations are good at writing, some are good at math, and some are entrepreneurs, some are medical wizards. If a generation is defined as a span of approximately 20 years and there are 4 different types of generations born in the United States in a cycle that repeats every 4 generations, you can see how we could exhaust these domains of specific expertise in which each generation excels. Today, we lack mathematicians and scientists… but not for long. Thinking back to my conversation with my nephew on Thanksgiving, I realized that my part of the conversation was mixed with the usual cynicism and anger towards the elite. “America is screwed and things are going to get worse with austerity,” I said. My nephew replied that he didn’t believe America was collapsing, the sky was collapsing, etc. That’s when the epiphany happened.
Well, of course America is not going to fall apart, I thought. Suddenly our conversation was interrupted, the night rushed in and I wanted to end the conversation with him, but I found myself, my wife and my children saying goodbye before I could speak with my nephew. Well, here’s my chance to end this conversation. My message to my nephew and the rest of anyone who reads my writings is this: we are not doomed. The Generational and Turnings Theory is the only theory I have found that does a great job of predicting the future of society. These theories show that we will not only survive, but that we will grow, develop, prosper, and live on in America under the same systems we have used and modified since 1776.
The Mills would become scientists and mathematicians. They will bring civility back to America and by 2025 this country will not look the same, it will be better. We will sacrifice individual rights in the process because that’s what a Hero/Civic (the Mills) generation does. They build community to the extreme at the sacrifice of the individual.
For better or for worse, it’s the cycle. Perhaps the cycle improves with each pass, because our society does not grow linearly? I believe both are true. Finally, yes, the next 15 years are going to be difficult. That’s why they call it winter.
How are we going to carry it out? Millennials will offer their expertise in teamwork and sacrifice their lives if called upon to fight a war; the Xers will provide leadership through pragmatism while protecting the next generation Homeland Babies (b2004?-2021?), and baby boomers will “narrowly define the acceptable behavior of other nations and the proper use of U.S. weapons writ large”. (Generations p302)
Hope this helps, James Goulding 7/12/2010
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