Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here they come!

There's a strange logic at work in higher education today, although I need to lay my prejudices on the line here because I'm a humanties guy, an English major, someone who actually believes that a good, working knowledge of John Milton should be required of every Christian kid (go ahead--stop reading).

The il-logic works like this. Higher education is first and foremost professional. When kids leave college they'd better have a job or else what's that immense student loan bill all about? To heck with poetry and history--you can pick that up on your cell phone. 

That the argument is understandable is not my point. My point is that there's something askew in higher education when the English major all but disappears [reaches for the Kleenex].

Okay, I'm hopeless, I know.

But sociologists claim that the generation leaving college today will likely change professions, --not just job placements, not just where they work, but professions--a half dozen times in their lifetimes. How can you prepare yourself for a profession you'll not likely be in a decade down the road--or that doesn't even exist.

There, see?  Pass the Milton, please.

I say all of that because Pew released, just last week, a significant composite portrait of the generation journalists have come to dub "the millenials," those kids born after 1980, the kids who are natives with technology, who, like my grandkids, like to ride in our Tracker because cranking up the windows up is so very cool--they've never done such a thing before. This is our first researched look at "the Millennial Generation," and the findings are astounding.
How about this:
Half of millennials now describe themselves as political independents and 29 percent are not affiliated with any religion — numbers that are at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in in the last quarter-century.
It's already tough times for old-fashioned denominations, but the drought widens for almost any flavor of fellowship.  "Religious disaffiliation"--wow! sounds almost end-times-ish.

Or this:
Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age.
Ouch. Even believing in "the American dream" may soon be as foreign as cranking up car windows?  It's amazing that something so deeply ingrained within our national character could simply vanish.

Or this:
Just 26 percent of millennials are married. When they were the age that millennials are now, 36 percent of Gen Xers, 48 percent of baby boomers and 65 percent of the members of the silent generation were married.
Why not assault marriage too?   Oh, woe and woe and woe.

Or this:  
Asked a longstanding social science survey question, "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people," just 19 percent of millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31 percent of Gen Xers, 37 percent of silents and 40 percent of boomers.
Who on earth taught these kids to be so frightfully scared of each other? And where, pray tell, did such a commitment to original sin come from--because it certainly wasn't the Calvinists? Who's preaching fear anyway?  

There's much, much more.  If you're a Republican, the sky may appear to be falling. No generation holds progressive views as deeply as this one, and even though generations often travel through life on a track toward becoming more conservative, millennials have clearly started out farther to the left than any other--with a few exceptions:  they're not any more pro-abortion than any other generation, and they don't like to be called "environmentalists."

Still, what has to be tossed into the mix is the fact that they almost certainly will change.  Should the nation suffer another 9/11, should we undergo an economic catastrophe worse than they one we finally seem to be crawling out of, should something totally unforeseen enrich us or endanger us, all bets are off.  

Because things happen. Shit happens. Sweet things happen, too.  Who knows?--maybe North Dakota will free us from our otherwise endless Middle East entanglements?  

What's not likely to change is this:
Millennials are more racially diverse than any other generation, with 43 percent of Americans in this age group nonwhite. When you look just at white millennials, a majority still support smaller government and reject the notion that it’s the government’s job to ensure universal health care.

"The browning of America" is happening. Count on it. And no one knows it better than the millennials, who already live with it.

Look out.  Here they come.  And they're our kids.


Anonymous said...

"ah, na, na, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction."

Anonymous said...

We are going to live in these bodies of ours forever? When then?