That quote comes from Verna Myers, inclusion strategist, cultural change catalyst, influencer, thought leader, social commentator, and author. It charms me in its simplicity and truth.
Ah well, it seems perhaps we’ve finally had enough of tribalism. The politics of clinging to this base or that have failed to served us well and some 40% of the electorate no longer identify with a major party or candidate. Why, you might ask, is every choice in modern times a vote for the least-bad candidate?
But the times they are a changing. The young, those ignorant upstarts we old white men denigrated for so long are on the march and not only here in America.
In Sweden, every day for two weeks last fall, Greta Thunberg sat quietly outside parliament in Stockholm, handing out leaflets saying “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” Members of the Riksdag represent the Swedish people and their task is to ensure that the people's will permeates all decisions taken by the Riksdag.
That ‘task’ apparently does not go down well with Greta and the amazing thing is that her sit-down quickly took off from Sweden and became a global phenomenon. Children responded, tired of being shat upon by ignorance and diddling. Those who diddle, be warned.
The same trend dominates victims of school-shootings, weary of being told a nation’s hearts and minds are with them. What’s no longer with them are their treasured schoolmates. Meanwhile, assault weapons continue to be easily available to the mentally deranged—or simply those who want to go out with a headline. “What’s the latest score? Wow, bet I can beat that before killing myself and my name will be known nationwide.”
The old, rich and confused woman who is Secretary of Education thinks arming teachers is the answer. The kids who lost their friends think gun-control makes more sense. Our president doesn’t think at all, except for personal gain and blind ego. But presidents, both the best and worst, only last four or eight years.
Stalin said the death of an individual is a catastrophe, the death of a hundred-thousand is a news event. Everything is a news event these days, unless you remember the kid next door or a lost friend down the street.
Young men and women of all races and ethnic background only increase in ideals and power with experience, until they too become old. But history proves that greed breeds convenient ignorance and ideals produce wisdom.
America has been woefully short of wisdom in recent decades and that shows up in the bozos we send to represent us. Too few statesmen and far too many self-serving politicians. Politics was never meant to serve self. The Marshall Plan and Roosevelt’s social safety-nets served others.
Where has social equity, life, liberty and freedom for all gone? The truth is, it hasn’t gone. Perhaps just a bit sleepy, driven into hibernation by several generations of forgetfulness, driven to ground by the hubris of endless wars, fantasy entertainment and consumerism.
So what are these generations and what are their characteristics?
I was born smack-dab in the middle of the Silent Generation (1925-45). Born in mid Great-Depression, we’re known for upholding our values, strong loyalty to personal beliefs and a strong work ethic. Owing to our contributions, we’re not so silent after all. Some of my friends wish I’d shut the hell up once in a while.
Next came the Baby Boomers (1946-64). Named for the post WWII birthrate, they had it all—G.I. Bill for education and great careers in the only industrial nation not destroyed in the war. Now in their 60s and 70s, they want to keep it all and are the major supporters of a locked-up, polarized, environmentally ignorant government. Sorry folks, but Vietnam, the military industrial complex, endless unwinnable wars and destruction of social safety-nets weren’t all that great ideas.
GenX (1965-79) are those Boomer’s kids and if you’re a ‘latchkey’ kid you’ll recognize yourself by absent parents, working their ass off to get more. Meanwhile, you’re trying like hell to raise a family, pay off student debt and take care of your aging Boomer parents. Lots of strain on your resources. On average, you’re $142,000 in debt, forced to rent instead of own. Most of you are trying to climb out from under that debt, fingers crossed for retirement.
Millennials (1980-94), also known as GenY and huge users of social media. A thousand hookups on Facebook and no one to have coffee with. We’re still trying to figure them out, but there’s ninety-five million of them and boy, are they confused. They were told by their parents they could have anything, be anything and were special. Then they hit the job market and weren’t so special after all. You might call them the ‘let-down’ generation, over-promised by their parents.
Are you still with me? Hang on, we’re about to arrive at Greta Thunberg’s generation and they, along with the tail-end of the Millennials, are about to save what’s left of our world, politically, environmentally and socially.
Strange that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, an old white man and old white woman are their best supporters. Bernie and Liz see them as the future and so do I and we are right.
GenZ (1995 to 2015) is their name and they finally seem to get it—to understand that they’ve been lied to and pretty much ambushed—all with the best of intention. We want our kids to do well, we’ve just forgotten how to do that and they know it. They’re a power. They represent 25% of the population and realize, I mean really realize, we’ve fucked it up.
GenZers are thoroughly hooked-up and wired-in. Their heroes (along with the aforementioned Bernie and Liz) are Elon Musk, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. They understand that the climate is nearly beyond repair, healthcare wrecked, education financially out of reach, income equality a mirage and the social net torn to shreds.
They also know that governments and corporations throughout the world are willing to stand by and watch it happen.
That’s not their tribe.
We’ve seen them rise up in the 2018 mid-terms and may not see them in full dress uniforms in 2020, but they’re on the march.
God love ‘em, they’re an army that can’t and won’t be beat.