Power will be shifting, if the Xers and millennials aren’t timid about elbowing the boomers out of the way. But don’t expect the boomers to relinquish it willingly.
My biggest concern about the passing of the baton from the so-called silent and boomer generations is the loss of memory. A recent survey revealed that two-thirds of millennials can’t say what Auschwitz was, and 52 percent of Americans wrongly believe Hitler came to power through force.
Democracy is a fragile institution, and the threat from autocrats is more potent than many people believe. I’m hoping the millennials acquire a deeper understanding of the way power works and of the importance of maintaining institutions critical to our independence. If not, the baton may be dropped — with dire consequences.
Home ownership in the U.S. continues to remain out of reach for many people. The home ownership rate for American households now stands at only 62.9 percent, down from a high of 69.7 percent. The rate is the lowest it’s been since the Census Bureau started tracking it in 1965.
Meanwhile, about a third of millennials are still living with their parents.
Financial independence for a majority of our fellow citizens is more illusive than at any time in my lifetime. We are becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. That is truly disturbing for some of us.
(Attribution: The title of this post is attributed to Sven Henrich, who labeled his tweet of this chart as such.)
P.S. A couple other disturbing charts I ran across this morning.
Go Ahead, Millennials, Destroy Us, an op-ed penned by Tim Kreider, deserves to be read by every American.
Here are some appetizing snippets:
As with all historic tipping points, it seems inevitable in retrospect: Of course it was the young people, the actual victims of the slaughter, who have finally begun to turn the tide against guns in this country. Kids don’t have money and can’t vote, and until now burying a few dozen a year has apparently been a price that lots of Americans were willing to pay to hold onto the props of their pathetic role-playing fantasies. But they forgot what adults always forget: that our children grow up, and remember everything, and forgive nothing.
Those kids have suddenly understood how little their lives were ever worth to the people in power. And they’ll soon begin to realize how efficient and endless are the mechanisms of governance intended to deflect their appeals, exhaust their energy, deplete their passion and defeat them. But anyone who has ever tried to argue with adolescents knows that in the end they will have a thousand times more energy for that fight than you and a bottomless reservoir of moral rage that you burned out long ago.
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I am creeped out by the increasing dogmatism and intolerance of millennials on the left … .
… Young people have only just learned that the world is an unfair hierarchy of cruelty and greed, and it still shocks and outrages them. They don’t understand how vast and intractable the forces that have shaped this world really are and still think they can change it. …
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The students of Parkland are like veterans coming home from the bloody front of the N.R.A.’s de facto war on children. . . . To them, powerful Washington lobbyists and United States senators suddenly look like what they are: cheesy TV spokesmodels for murder weapons. It has been inspiring and thrilling to watch furious, cleareyed teenagers shame and vilify gutless politicians and soul-dead lobbyists for their complicity in the murders of their friends. . . .
One of my students once asked me, when I was teaching the writing of political op-ed essays, why adults should listen to anything young people had to say about the world. My answer: because they’re afraid of you. They don’t understand you. And they know you’re going to replace them.
My message, as an aging Gen X-er to millennials and those coming after them, is: Go get us. Take us down — all those cringing provincials who still think climate change is a hoax, that being transgender is a fad or that “socialism” means purges and re-education camps. Rid the world of all our outmoded opinions, vestigial prejudices and rotten institutions. . . . I for one can’t wait till we’re gone. I just wish I could live to see the world without us.
I recommend reading the entire essay.
I think we are up to our waders in you-know-what. I’m not going to recite any of the you-know-whats here. I’ve mentioned some (but not all) of them in prior posts. Suffice it to say I think the situation is serious — perhaps, from a financial and political standpoint, even dire.
That said, I remain incredibly hopeful. I prefer hopeful to optimistic because what we call optimism is too often untethered from reality — mere wishful thinking if you will. Too often it takes the form of a naive, childish outlook — a don’t worry, be happy persona.
Sometimes one should be worried (or perhaps concerned is a better word, as your great-grandmother prefers, Vera). Sometimes we need to acknowledge the clouds and gathering storms and work our butts off to prepare and avoid some of the disastrous consequences that might otherwise ensue.
Pure optimists aren’t very good at that. They’re generally the ones who get blindsided and take the full brunt of the blows.
So the whole optimist-pessimist dichotomy doesn’t appeal to me. Nonetheless, if I had to claim one or the other, I suppose I’d claim both, in the model of Antonio Gramsci: “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”
Hope, on the other hand, is a concept more to my liking. At least for me, it doesn’t deny reality. Hope isn’t afraid to talk about the clouds and to confront risks and danger. But it does so with full awareness of what shines behind the clouds. Hope, you see, allows you to see the sun through the clouds.
I see the sun. Here are some of the reasons why: Continue reading