The Greatest Generation... the builders of modern history. They constructed the cities that, today, are the center of our world. They constructed the entire infrastructure that makes up the United States, from unimaginably large dams, to epic sky ways bridging treacherously shark infested waters... They were even responsible for dreaming up what brought America together like nothing else... the Interstate Highway System.
The greatest generation, indeed. With no money in their pocketbooks, no roof over their heads, they took on tasks that were larger than life, under conditions that would always put your life in question.
The generation of my ancestors... breaking their back's so that their children, and grandchildren, even great grandchildren could reap the benefits of a unified society and a country ripe with opportunity.
Flash forward to the Millenial Generation (1988 - 2001). The eldest of this creed is the current college generation, entering their early twenties... faced with a world foreign to all generations that have come before it.
And unknowingly faced with challenges in excess of the Greatest Generation.
Those born 100 years ago would grow to face two world wars, a great depression, the advent of the automobile, the first flight of man, and the expansion of power and telephone throughout the country. In times of hardship, they understood community... they were willing to do what was necessary to put food on the dinner table.
Those born into the Millennial Generation have missed the cold war, been witness to economic expansion and the growth of the middle class, and little actual reality involving physical hardships (as a generation). Theirs is a psychological hardship. A generation not being allowed to grow up, not allowed to claim responsibility... a generation filled with distraction and inaction. Theirs is a generation who has been taught that government is the answer, and they are unable to see that government has actually become the problem. They are a generation raised in defiance of nationalism, instead as citizens of the world.
But what they do not see is that theirs is the generation that is going to be faced with the greatest challenge with the least amount of preparation.
While they are plagued with diabetes, weight issues, and the lack of self respect and control... and while they are more interested in the latest release of Grand Theft Auto than the Grand Unification Theory... while they are distracted from society by iPods and Wii, they do not realize that the gift given to them by the Greatest Generation is reaching Warranty.
Bridges are crumbling, sewer systems and steam pipes are exploding, urban zones are wastelands, power plants are nearing critical age... the capacity to manufacture has been shipped overseas (and that includes the ability to manufacture material necessary to repair infrastructure)
The infrastructure that has afforded the ease of life that the Millennials are blessed with is dangerously close to collapsing.
Instead of taking action, the Millennials are trained for inaction. Instead of planning for reconstruction, they demand that the government bail them out. Instead of doing something, they do nothing. Many of them will not need to hold a job before graduation from college... many will live with their parents or stay dependant on them through their mid to late twenties.
It is a generation of blame instead of responsibility... for now.
Their generation can be summed up by a song speaking to their generation:
I pose this question: Can the Millennial Generation improve on what was given to them by the Greatest Generation (and subsequent generations in between)? Do they have the resolve to ensure that the United States and our way of life is sustainable for another hundred years.
Or in the hands of this generation, are we left with a generation waiting for their opportunity instead of ceasing the opportunities at hand and making a change?
I am increasingly frustrated with the sentiment in this song, and the mentality of "instant gratification" that goes with the "have everything" Millennials.
Anything worth doing cannot be completed overnight.
Can the mentality of a generation change to embrace the challenges that are truly ahead?
Or has this entire generation befallen to the distractions that are in abundance around them?