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Civil discussions helpful to future generations

Civil discussions helpful to future generations Civil discussions helpful to future generations

It would be hard to escape the claims that we are living in an unusual time in history. Some would even call it a crisis moment in the life of our planet. All around the globe the news is of environmental disasters, social unrest, political discord, military conflicts and now the threat of a health pandemic.

I try to stay close to news releases and television live broadcasts of world events. I have watched the impeachment trial and the corresponding commentaries that follow. But, when I try to strike up a conversation with others about the events, many people say they have stopped watching the news as it is unpleasant and it is making them nervous and sick. Others say it is all so complex or rigged that they feel helpless to do anything about the problems.

Wait a minute. Aren’t we called a participatory democracy? No participation equals no lasting democracy.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that it was a bit arrogant to think any of us has the luxury of opting out of involvement in current affairs. Oh, yes, we may be pretty comfortable if we are not a minority, out of a job, physically sick or a recent immigrant to this country. However, make no mistake about it, we all have a stake in the current social, political and economic happenings. Everyone from small children to very golden oldies needs to take an interest and responsibility in what is gong on locally, nationally and internationally, even into space.

In my many trips to ex-Soviet block countries, I have seen the scars on generations who have handed over power to autocratic governments. I was in the country of Moldova as they became the first of the ex-soviet satellites to elect a Communist president after the fall of the Berlin Wall. How could this be, I wondered? They finally had the opportunity to enter the free enterprise system, capitalism and a democracy. Instead, citizens ran back to the mentality of “let someone else take care of the complicated issues of the day.” They practice the art of staying under the radar in order not to be seen. They are afraid to be noticed by those who think or act differently. They are afraid of being seen as a threat or potential victim of an autocratic system. The goal of such living is merely survival. No entrepreneurial spirits. No critical thinking. Very few progressive ideas for the future, and little freedom for anyone.

The Feb. 3 issue of Time magazine is a good wake-up call for all of us. It announces a “Youthquake” on the horizon.  The writers chronicle the current conditions of 2020 when the world is still “defined by values and priorities of baby boomers. But not for long.”

Baby boomers drove the agenda of our country after the Second World War because of their shear numbers and the great impact of the war that preceded their births. The new influencing generation is those born between 1981 and 1996. We call them millennials. They are the young people who came of age in the Information Age and are comfortable with their usage of digital technologies and social media.

Can we possibly understand how these young adults see the world and what they envision for the future if we simply rely on their own personal experiences? In Time, Charlotte Alter wrote, “Millennials are more racially diverse, more tuned in to the power of networks and systems and more socially progressive than either Gen X or baby boomers.” They see flaws in our economic system and social programs.

Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chair of the World Economic Forum, declares in Time, “We should move away from a narrative of production and consumption to one of sharing and caring.” He goes on to say, “An intergenerational crisis is — increasingly — underway. We have created a system that disproportionately rewards the happy few, underfunds Social Security and infrastructure and puts at risk the health of the planet as a whole.” He calls for “intergenerational parity “to become the norm.

Our children need to hear we adults discuss, in a civil and positive way, the values, practices and disagreements of our communities. Out of fear of offending or being misunderstood, I heard little talk of current events at gatherings during the holidays. How do children know what it takes to be a contributing citizen when they are the adults if they see no examples at home? Do you watch the news with your children and discuss what you hear and ask for their ideas?

We in the United States are not alone with an uprising of young people who are taking matters into their own hands. Watch television broadcasts from around the world that show protests over social, economic and governmental issues. Young people by the thousands are demanding to be heard concerning needed reforms. They do not intend to wait for us older folks to stall action any longer.

Do we just reject them and fear them? Or, do we understand the issues as seen by different generations, economic, racial, national and gender groups and work out a consensus that is rich and sustainable?