I am an old resolved man in a new irresolute world. I can’t accept that I am passe, yet I must. I loath the the new rude, still I have no choice but to embrace them. My accommodation of youth’s rampant avarice seems endless and empty, but it is the only tool I have in my meager chest. Survival in a social world that does not respect prior generations, let alone value the accumulated wisdom acquired through time honored failures. It is with these impressions that I endeavor to write about elements of The Generation Gap.
The Joseph E. Stiglitz’ article in Project Syndicate, titled The New Generation Gap, examines some of the reasons for the Gap. Nobel laureate Stiglitz sees voting patterns on both sides of the Atlantic divided less by income, education, and gender and more by generation. The chasm dividing the old and young is the difference between their accumulated past and their narrowing future. To the old, the Cold War and failed social experiments are realities alive in their memory. To the young, the Cold War is a stale slice of history and the failures of the past are moldy mounds of ancient lessons learned in spreading a green patina over a second look, and with no reigning reason to discount, let alone rebuke. Socialism’s concern for all collections of people on this earth and ecology’s care for the each of earth’s species in their environment resonates with a great many individuals, if with only a few world leaders.
The older generation expected to be better off than their parents and even to take care of those aging parents. The new generation expects to be better off with their parents and even to be taken care of by their aging parents. Today’s young do not ponder which job to take but which job will take them. They do not project how soon their job will allow them to buy a house but, rather, if it will afford them enough income to “game on” after making their student loan payments. Retirement to the young is an obscure almost mythical land which always frightens the old – and for different reasons. While the upper-middle class young may have inheritance as the only glow in their future, it is a dependence they probably resent, albeit a future immensely greater than the young middle and under-class majority with no inherent future.
So many did everything right (obey, study, listen), then watchedd those Baby-boomers and Gen-Xers, guilty of wrong-doing, walk away with mega-bonuses. The high percentage of those who excelled in school see promises of prosperity come true – but only for the top 1%. Injustice, inequalities, and distrust define our times to the young. In Europe, center-left and center-right parties are seen as “more of the same” – and the centers are losing elections! While in America, Republican candidates compete on demagoguery, directed at the aging generations; and Democratic candidates propose changes that could make a real difference for the younger generations, but can not get those ideals through congress. Democratic candidates’ proposals would prevent the financial system from preying on the already precarious young, as an example. Home ownership, retirement, and good paying jobs are out of reach objects for the the young – and they aren’t getting any closer. Recognition by the older generation is part of the problem. And part of the anger.
I found Mr. Stiglitz article informative without being comprehensive or convincing because he seemed to be reflecting his own opinions and not those of the young generations he spoke for and about. I would have liked to see more direct input from the Millennial constituency and a more balanced bite-back of those who are accused of holding the young ones in check. This subject is ever changing and evolving. About the time the definition of a generation is starting to firm up – when it gets its name! – a new generation with a new identity has been delivered and the examination and dissection starts up again.
Quotations about the Generations:
For women, the sting of early-onset ageism hits hardest—men don’t seem to have a shelf life on relevance. Is there a shelf life of relevance for women? Is this an idea relevant only to Gen X? Men do have a shelf life and it’s usually around the house, they do less, want more and are much too ungrateful.
Generation X—typically defined as those born between 1964 and 1980— I’m sensitive to stereotypes that we’re somehow tired and already “over” as we hit midlife. Are Gen Xers over the hill or on top of it? Are Gen Xers already at the bottom of the hill and heading underground?
Xers (Gen X = the “13th generation”) are the people who will tear/are tearing down the entrenched institutions of the Boomers (born 1946 and 1964), while the Millennials (a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000) will be the ones to rebuild from the rubble and return order to the resulting chaos. Are Boomers getting too much credit for the future debt crisis? Are Xers in the trenches tearing down foundations fast enough to resuscitate the slowly suffocating earth? Shouldn’t Millennials build something new instead of rebuilding from generational rubble?
Leslie Anne Tarabella, mother of a 25 year-old ~ Attention everyone; in case you didn’t already know, we are no longer dealing with the greatest generation. Are millenials not as smart or just as smart but in different things? Should one’s expectations of different generations be modified? Dropped? Maintained? Are there indications that Millennials will eventually become a Greater Generation?
2nd Lt. John R. Pedevillano, age 93, WWII veteran and POW ~ There were 16 million other people in the service. They’d done just as much as I did and deserved everything I’ve gotten. What word describes this man’s sentiment? He says he got what others deserved. Does he feel humbled, ashamed or blessed? How do you feel after reading this?
Gene Marks, Philly Magazine ~ Baby Boomers are, thank God, the last reminders of our racist, homophobic, sexist past. Is “last reminders” accurate? Are racist, homophobic, sexist attitudes passing away in this America? In this town? In this room?
The New Rude
Do you forget to RSVP? Or accept knowing you won’t turn up? How about cancelling with a two-word text? You could be from any generation but if you are guilty of the above, you are a member of The New Rude Generation.