Nancy Gibbs in the most recent Time Magazine—Generation Next

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If boomers were always looking to shock, millennials are eager to share.

But they are also unconventionally conventional. They are, for example, the least officially religious of any modern generation, and fully 1 in 4 has no religious affiliation at all. On the other hand, they are just as spiritual, just as likely to believe in miracles and hell and angels as earlier generations were. They pray about as much as their elders did when they were young--all of which suggests that they have not lost faith in God, only in the institutions that claim to speak for him.

The greatest divide of all has to do with hope and heart. In any age, young folk tend to be more cheerful than old folk, but the hope gap has never been greater than it is now. Despite two wars and a nasty recession that has hit young people hardest, the Pew survey found that 41% of millennials are satisfied with how things are going, compared with 26% of older people. Less than a third of those with jobs earn enough to lead the kind of life they want--but 88% are confident that they will one day.

"Youth is easily deceived," Aristotle said, "because it is quick to hope." But I'd rather think that the millennials know something we don't about the inventions that will emerge from their networked brains, the solutions that might arise from a generation so determined to bridge gaps and work as a team. In that event, their vision would be vindicated, not only for themselves but for those of us who will one day follow their lead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

20 Comments
Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Sorry Nancy, you may “rather think” whatever fantasy you like, but Aristotle has credibility and durability for a reason. 

The Boomers are passed out in a stupor on the couch again, and we Gen-Xers are doing our best to clean up the mess and put things into some semblance of order, while our Millenial siblings are too young to understand that the mortgage is overdue and we are all about to be evicted in the morning.

Is anyone really surprised by the fact that marijuana use by seniors is going up as the Boomers age?  What a feckless generation!  The only silver lining I see is the imminent national bankruptcy that will end the profligacy of the Boomer generation.  We Gen-Xers are going to suffer for what the Boomers have done, but if we go bankrupt and end all the entitlements, we just might be able to make things better for our children…something we cannot do while we are saddled with the totally narcisistic Boomer profligacy.

We are the 13th Generation.  The duty is ours.

March 15, 10:22 am | [comment link]
2. Fr. Dale wrote:

1. Sick and Tired of Nuance,

totally narcisistic[narcissistic] Boomer profligacy

Too bad you are sandwiched between two loser generations. Don’t be surprised when your generation is criticized even if it is only for being so self righteous but my guess at age 65 is that your generation will make it’s share of errors too.

March 15, 11:01 am | [comment link]
3. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Thanks for the spell check Fr. Dale. A little condescension is always just the thing to prick a younger man’s self-righteousness, don’t ya think?

I don’t think the Millenials are losers.  I think they are a terrific bunch of kids and will do what I can to help them along; unlike the treatment the Boomers gave the Latch-key Gen-Xers. 

It sounds like you took Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire song to heart.  It doesn’t really matter.  The Boomers are bankrupting the nation right this very minute.  Soon, we will no longer be able to pay the interest on the debt, let alone the principle.  The Boomer generation will be begging for bread from their Latchkey kids…the ones they didn’t abort, that is.  Perhaps the illegal immigrants they gave jobs to, rather than their own children, will be there for the Boomers.  Or, maybe the nations the Boomers outsourced jobs to will forgive the debt. 

Never forget, one man’s self-righteousness is another mans prophetic voice.  Maybe the Boomers will learn to “live into” it.

March 15, 11:32 am | [comment link]
4. Fr. Dale wrote:

#3. Sick and Tired of Nuance,
I just remember when we said we were going to do a better job than our parents (The ones Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation”). Well, we didn’t. God bless you and your generation and may you do a better job.

March 15, 11:51 am | [comment link]
5. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Well, my parents and my wife’s parents are divorced.  We were both Latchkey kids.  We are home schooling our children.

My anger isn’t at you specifically; it is at the Boomer generation in general.  I know that there were many exceptions and that fine folks are lumped in.  To the good people of the Boomer generation, I offer apologies and condolences.

And yes, I know that I made another typo in my second post.

“another mans prophetic” should be “another man’s prophetic”

March 15, 12:10 pm | [comment link]
6. Anglicanum wrote:

I’m right there with you, S&TofN;.

March 15, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
7. Billy wrote:

Sorry, s&tofn;, I have to take up for Boomers, even if I are one.  We were raised by the Greatest Generation, and forced to fight a war in Vietnam that the leaders from the Greatest Generation would not let us win.  So many Boomers (not me) refused to serve in the military and checked out on drugs, but most eventually came back and started work.  But guess what!  I’ve noticed from my own children who are Gen Xers that your generation may have tripped out on drugs more than mine.  And while yours was drugging, mine was becoming the sandwich generation, taking care of our Greatest Generation parents, who lived much longer than their parents, while at the same time taking care of your generation, who drugged out, then left home, and then returned home to be taken care of some more (thus, the sandwich generation name for us - get it?).  Gen Xers may ultimately clean up messes made by others, but they haven’t started doing that yet.  But I do hear a lot of whining from Gen Xers about the world they live in.  Good luck with that whining.  It goes a long way to solving problems.

March 15, 2:46 pm | [comment link]
8. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

And good luck to your generation Fr. Dale, relying on Social Security and Medicare.  And remember, when the money runs out, no whining.  And speaking of whining, isn’t it the Boomer generation that is known for its protests, sit-ins, and marches?

By the way, I thought home schooling my kids was rather a constructive response to the Latchkey childhood my wife and I had, not a whine.  You should also know that the divorce rate of Gen-X is lower than the Boomer divorce rate (perhaps because we married later in life and had our children later, too) and that the drug usage rate and binge drinking rate is also lower for Gen-X than the Boomer’s rate…and according to recent reports, aging Boomers are actually increasing their use of pot.

That whole “returning home” thing was because of economics.  You know, the Boomer’s globalization scheme where they sent all the manufacturing jobs overseas and the open borders where all the illegal immigrants took the entry level jobs…and then moaned and complained about those shiftless Gen-Xers not being able to hold a job.  Hey, at least the Boomers have company paid for pensions, so long as they didn’t stab each other in the back (Enron? et al) and swindle one another.  That whole issue doesn’t really affect the Gen-Xers because they never were offered that sort of pension or job security.  The average Gen-Xer has had to change career paths 11 times.  It’s the Boomers that were in charge that got rid of pensions, reduced health insurance benefits, and awarded senior executives multimillion-dollar golden parachutes even if the companies went bankrupt.  It was also the Boomer generation that mastered the hostile takeover and the dismantling of profitable companies that lead to massive layoffs.

But hey, who’s keeping score?  Woodstock forever!

Aging Boomer using more pot:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35519187/ns/health-aging/

Divorce rate declining: http://divorce.suite101.com/article.cfm/divorce_rates_are_falling_as_couples_marry_later

March 15, 4:57 pm | [comment link]
9. Branford wrote:

Pensions?? What pensions?? Only if you work for the government - pensions have been long gone, and I’m sure most Boomers don’t have them either.

March 15, 4:59 pm | [comment link]
10. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Sorry, that last should have been directed to Billy, not Fr. Dale.

March 15, 5:01 pm | [comment link]
11. everrion wrote:

I apologize for making a comment that is off the topic, but I just realized that my age group is missing in the generation title game.  I asked myself, “What am I?”  Thank God for Wikipedia—which I was taught IN COLLEGE not to use in professional writing.  I was born in ‘85 so that puts me somewhere between Gen X and Gen Y.  I ascribe more to the ideals on the Gen X; whereas, some of my peers may be more Gen Y. 

I believe my age bracket can be best defined as the 911 Generation.  We grew up in a divorced baby-boomer household with two sets of parents working hard for us to excel in all of life’s experiences (school, music, sports).  Then in 2001, while we were in college and high school making future decisions for our lives, things changed drastically with the Sep 11th attacks.  I was 1 of 5 people in my graduation class of about 80 students (public school) to attend a military college.  A few others enlisted.  In my upperclassman years at The Citadel I found many underclassmen that had graduated from my high school.  When asked in a CNN interview, many of The Citadel cadets, women too, said they chose a military service because of 911.  Look at the shanks of the federal academy’s rings.  I know one class at the USCGA chose to remember the attack.

What defines the 911 Generation?  One Navy Chaplain said that he was impressed with how service driven this generation has become; speaking about military personnel and civilians.  Senior year, a Marine Officer, class of ‘05, returned to The Citadel from Iraq.  He was a 1st Lt billeted in a Major’s position.  I remember thinking to myself “this guy is a grown man and he is only 24 years old.”  I also recall being impressed with the dedication of an amputee that I met at Walter Reed.  He was a double below knee amputee who had dedicated his life to recovering.  He was heading up an amputee soccer team and preparing to run a marathon.  Another amputee, a Cpt., was the first amputee to return to war.  He recalled having to change his prosthetic foot while engaged in combat. What courage!

Don’t worry, the 911 Generation will assume command and lead this country in the years to come.

March 15, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
12. Clueless wrote:

For my part, “Boomers” are not defined as the entire swathe from 1945 to 1965.  The Boomers who were defined by being draft eligible for Vietnam, engaging/precipitating the drug/sexual culture, and who all went off to fully funded colleges, where they lay about, got stoned and still got good jobs afterwards were the folks born between 1945 to 1954.

Folks from 1955-1965 are considered Gen. Jones.  We were too young for Woodstock, being in elementary school.  We were also too young to be drafted for Vietnam.  When we went to college, campuses were quiet again, however the college culture was trashed.  We graduated into the Jimmy Carter recession/stagflation, and like Gen. X we also changed jobs 11 times, as the jobs had dried up, the pensions had been replaced by 401k plans, easy tenure if you had a pHD became suddenly nonexistent. 

We do not identify with the Boomers.  Their issues were the draft, the war, the sexual revolution and “finding” themselves.  Our issues were economic insecurities with gas prices and a rising nemployment rate coupled with fear of Herpes and Aids just as we arrived into young adulthood. 

Generation Jones people had to work harder while thinking out of the box and the result was computers, cell phones, digital media and the internet.  Steven Jobs and Bill Gates are Gen Jones.  .

Being a Gen. Jones was like going to a party too late, where all the food was gone, the place was trashed, and the authorities were on site, blaming those present, including those who came well after the party was over.

We too get to clean up the Boomers mess.  Economically we are much like Gen X.  Unlike Gen X we get to be blamed as “boomers” despite having none of the benefits the Boomers enjoyed in terms of job security.  Like Gen X we also will not have social security as the program will have collapsed by then.  We anticipate working until we die, to clean up after the Boom and the “silver foxes” (Korea generation too young for WWII) who exported our jobs overseas, and who made college unaffordable for those after about 1972, in a successful attempt to continue paying for 1960 entitlement programs such as Medicare/SSS without having commensurate taxes.

We vote independent for the most part.  We are more likely to vote for a candidate out of our political party if we want change, and Jonesers are thought largely responsible in the US for the election and re-election of President George W. Bush, as well as the 2006 turnaround when voters successfully elected a Democratic majority Senate and House of Representatives.

We will be voting the Democrats out this fall.

March 16, 9:56 am | [comment link]
13. Branford wrote:

Thank you, Clueless (#12), I fall in that time frame and everything you said is exactly what I’ve experienced.

March 16, 10:20 am | [comment link]
14. Billy wrote:

#12, I don’t disagree with most of what you wrote.  Being a Boomer, however, I have to say that there were (are) many of us who did not get stoned and drop out, that we did serve in the military (obviously often under incompetent direction), and after Vietnam we then went to work to take care of our families and continue to build the US throughout the world.  Most of us voted for GHWB #41 both times, and most of us could not and cannot stand Bill Clinton, nor his policies.  We did not vote for Obama and we shall be with you to vote his people out in the fall and him out in 2012.

March 16, 2:36 pm | [comment link]
15. Clueless wrote:

#14.  I agree.  The Boomers were a deeply divided generation.  The poor and the responsible went to Vietnam where twice as many Boomer young men died than died during the Korean war. The wealthy got deferments and lay about on campus getting stoned while “finding themselves”.  The US Media lionized the campus drug/sexual scene and dumped on the Vietnam vets.  The campus folks got jobs on graduation, while the Vietnam vets were shunned as “baby killers” by their draft dodging peers who for the first time in US history were preferred over the vets. 

The trouble with the the Boomer generation is that was when America lost her way.  Being loyal, courageous, and responsible suddenly meant that you were a homicidal, crazy, and “rigid”.  Sleeping around, aborting your children, “finding yourself” in novel sexual relationships and drugs while quoting Satre meant that you were “creative” or “deep” or a “free spirit”. 

Further, the church was ruined by the flood of entrants into the clergy during the period who entered in order to avoid the war, rather than to serve God. They too, upon graduation, together with the media and academia made faithfulness, self discipline and sacrifice a sign of hatefulness, while “openmindedness” “tolerance” and “inclusivity” became the new virtues.

Not surprisingly, after that nobody wished to be responsible again.  The boom, and her enablers in academia, church and the media glamorized sloth, greed, lust and vilified sacrifice, discipline and self control.

America has been paying for it every since.

March 16, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
16. Billy wrote:

#15, yes, much of what you say is correct.  But many draft boards drafted kids out of college.  It was very tony in those days (and even now) to say only the poor went to VN.  That really wasn’t the case.  One other thing, many high school and college boomers did what you said, turned on, dropped out, and did nothing responsible.  But the American public supported them, including the press, but also members of the Korean and the Greatest Generation supported that group.  And when MLK tied the civil rights movemente to the peace movement, all those of any generation of a liberal bent at all supported it.  In 1968, everything I had known all of my life to be right, was suddenly wrong, and what had been wrong was suddenly right.  These changes were not made by the boomers in college and high school, who were in their late teens and early 20s.  These changes were made and accepted by the Greatest Generation, who were in their late 40s and early 50s in 1968, and by a Fed Gov’t being run by those same Greatest Generation people.  So let’s don’t lay everything on us boomers.  Some of us did continue the “anything goes - I’m OK, You’re OK” society that our parents agreed to and supported in the late 60s and early 70s.  But at least, I would submit, we did do more than any other generation to help solve the race problems in this country.

March 16, 5:01 pm | [comment link]
17. Clueless wrote:

“But at least, I would submit, we did do more than any other generation to help solve the race problems in this country”

Actually IIRC that was the Silent Generation.  MLK and most of the folks marching in Selma were Silent Generation folks.

The rest, I accept.

March 16, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
18. Clueless wrote:

It depends on what you mean by “civil rights”.  If you mean equal rights for black people that was the Silent Generation.

If you mean feminism and Gay rights that was when the Boomers came in.

March 16, 5:20 pm | [comment link]
19. Billy wrote:

No, actually, the boomers’ high schools and colleges were the places where integration took place in the South.  And we were the ones who were attending the integrated conferences at young people in Episcopal Church mission (I know because I attended several in Tuskegee in the mid to late 60s).  We were the first ones to call him “Dr. King” instead of Martin Luther King.  We were a part of the protests.  Many of us went from college to registering voters in rural South, to teaching in urban schools, and into the Peace Corp (dodging draft - yes, but still went) to poverty stricken black countries.  Race relations improvement is one of the things that Boomers definitely can lay claim to.

March 16, 5:24 pm | [comment link]
20. Billy wrote:

#18, feminism, yes, but gay rights is a gen - x thing.  Most older Boomers have nothing to do with it and find it appalling.

March 16, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.




Next entry (above): Rod Dreher—Journalists should deal with religion respectfully but ask hard questions

Previous entry (below): World Magazine on Christ Church Savannah—Bricks and mortar

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)