I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation…
15 July 2018
‘Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.’
That’s a quote from George Orwell, and it’s an evergreen description of how generations feel about each other. The old will always look down on the young, shaking their heads at mistakes made and differences evolved. The young will always look down on the old, disregarding their imparted wisdom, believing them to be out-of-touch fools.
Never has this great misunderstanding been more pronounced than now.
Parents want their children off of smartphones and children want their parents off of Fox News. In fact, they want them out of politics altogether. It’s a two-way issue and both sides are steeped in ignorance and arrogance. However, this time, it’s us youths who need to take the first step back and give respect where it’s due.
It is annoying when older people don’t respect the lifestyles and freedoms of those being brought up in the here and now. No matter what we do, we’re doing it wrong. As a collective and as individuals, we young people will always be a disappointment.
But do you know what’s worse than that sentiment? Pushing blame back onto those who raised you, refusing to be grateful for the hard work that has built your life.
A viral blog post drew my attention to this issue a couple of months ago. Titled, YOUR Generation, it perfectly encapsulates the misplaced anger of teenagers and 20-somethings. Combine that with a know-it-all attitude, and you’ve got yourself a real-life caricature of the classic millennial—whiny and brattish.
With a pointed finger, the 25-year-old author places blame on all the groups they think contributed to society’s woes.
‘YOUR generation was the generation where two teachers could afford to buy a 4-bedroom house in San Diego. YOUR generation was the generation where one parent could work…and the other could raise 2 kids. MY generation has both parents working, one or both working 2 jobs just to buy food, not even able to afford a family vacation every December.’
If this was written in 1918…
‘YOUR generation didn’t have to fight in the trenches of a terrible world war and come home to a devastating flu epidemic that killed half your friends and family.’
The blog post is the definition of ignorance and entitlement. It assumes that our parents and grandparents had it better based only on a few factors, most of them to do with financial security. There is no mention of the all hard work, effort, and ingenuity that cut global poverty in half, birthed modern computer technology, and turned Western nations into some of the richest in history with the highest living standards on the planet.
Worst of all, it discounts the suffering that had to be endured to make those achievements a reality. When millennials talk about inheriting a world of hardship, blame is placed squarely on the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1965-1984).
In relation to ‘fu*king things up,’ the author states, ‘we’re only 25, we didn’t get into the war in 2001.’
The Baby Boomers didn’t choose to ‘get into’ the Vietnam War. Millions of them didn’t even choose to fight. They were conscripted and torn from their families, flown to the other side of the world. Both the Boomers and Gen Xers had to hold onto their asses as the Cold War put the world on the edge of destruction time and time again, one flashpoint after the other.
All generations, all people strive to leave the world in a better place than they found it. They don’t always succeed in every aspect. Problems are inherited and can last for decades.
But if you don’t want to take on the mistakes of your ancestors, don’t take on their accomplishments. Relinquish your civil rights, your computers and smartphones, your flag on the moon, and a world peace stronger than it has ever been.
Did the Greatest Generation whine when they were born into depression and baptised in fire on the beaches of Europe?
No, they got down to business.
The worst part of this muck comes at the end, where the author finishes with the line, ‘don’t tell me I “just” need to “get a better job” or that I “only” have to send my kids to “a good school.” Because it doesn’t work like that anymore. And don’t blame me.’
Don’t. Blame. Me.
This is what leads to a never-ending cycle of despair. This is was what leads to unsolvable problems. If you don’t think it’s your fault, you’re not going to fix it, and when you die, it’ll be your children’s problem. The cycle will continue.
This isn’t just the sentiment of a few people on the internet. Bruce Gibney, a millionaire venture-capitalist and author of ‘A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America,’ shares similar ideas regarding the burden millennials have been saddled with. In an interview, he bemoans not the Boomers but conservative values in general.
‘Starting with Reagan,’ Gibney states, we see ‘a massive push for privatised gain and socialised risk for big banks and financial institutions. This has really been the dominant boomer economic theory, and it’s poisoned what’s left of our public institutions.’
When asked about the future, he says, ‘if we unseat the boomers from Congress, from state legislatures, and certainly from the presidency over the next three to seven years, then I think we can undo the damage. But that will require a much higher tax rate…’
At least he’s addressing the ways we can fix our problems, but with his kind of thinking, they won’t be solved. Conservative ideas like lower taxes and privatisation won’t die with the passing of a generation.
Millennials have great potential, more than we’re given credit for, but none of that can be put to use if we keep passing responsibility and blame either backwards or forwards. I wish I could say this was the generation where the buck stopped. I wish we could acknowledge the problems of the past, fix them in the present and prevent further issues from occurring in the future.
We will undoubtedly fail in some places, but hopefully, our children won’t throw up their hands and relinquish responsibility because ‘it’s not their fault’—exactly what some of their parents did.