As I perused my local paper this morning I glanced at the story about the North Penn graduation yesterday. Approximately 1,200 Millenials graduated and are moving on to their next step in life. I was about to skip to the next story when I saw the name Neil Howe in the story. The valedictorian’s speech to his class referenced our current Crisis as laid out by Strauss & Howe in The Fourth Turning. This 18 year old kid gets it. He understands these are dangerous times. He told his fellow classmates they are the new Hero Generation, as he referenced the last Hero Generation that did the heavy lifting and dying during the last Fourth Turning.
I know the old farts on this site do the usual bashing of the youth of today, but they are wrong. This country will only get through this Fourth Turning with a positive result if the Millenials are successful in handling the terrible ordeals that await them. I have three Millenials at home. I know their friends. These are good kids. Their eyes are open. They see how badly their elders have fucked things up. They have no choice but to fix it. They have no choice but to meet the immense challenges ahead. While the Boomers scream at each other and threaten to shut down the government and issue more debt to paper over a debt crisis, the Millenials are preparing for the next 15 years. They are faced with modern distractions (iPods, computers, TV, social media), but human nature does not change. They have not been properly educated by the Boomer run education system, but they understand crushing debt, no jobs, stagnant income, and rising food and energy costs. They know the country cannot run $1.5 trillion deficits for infinity without destroying the country. They are our last best hope.
We’ve been here before. The GI Generation has virtually died off, but the new Hero Generation is getting ready to step up. The old fogies who shit on this generation need to step back and understand history. This generation will step up, because they have to.
North Penn grads hailed as next greatest generation
By Linda Stein
North Penn High School seniors celebrate as they take the fieldfor the Fifty-Sixth Commencement ceremony at the school on Wednesday evening June 15,2011. Photo by Mark C Psoras
TOWAMENCIN — A sea of newly minted North Penn High School graduates in blue caps and gowns marched into Crawford Stadium Wednesday under a softer blue sky.
Cheering and applauding family and friends clutched balloons and flowers. Some took pictures. Others smiled, waved and blew kisses as the 2011 graduates–more than one thousand strong–took their places on the field, ready to begin a new stage in their young lives.
In an inspiring speech, class Valedictorian Julian Pei spoke of the challenges that his generation faces with economic uncertainties and war abroad.
“Sometimes it feels as if our country is unraveling,” Pei said. “But we cannot fear these times, rather, we must embrace them. The word ‘crisis’ in Chinese is made up of two parts. The first character means ‘danger.’ Clearly we are facing some uncertain and possibly dangerous times ahead. But the second character means ‘opportunity.’
“I believe our generation faces some enormous opportunities in the face of crisis,” he said. Citing historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, Pei said that American history has 80 to 100 year cycles.
Current circumstances comprise a moment of crisis but “we are the ‘Hero Generation,’ mirroring the ‘Greatest Generation’ from about 80 years ago.
“In order for us to properly seize life’s opportunities and become unbeatable…we must be prepared to take on any challenge,” Pei said.
“Go out into the world knowing that the time is now to take the fist step in sculpting a new generation.”
Pei, who plans to go to the University of Pennsylvania, will study biology and finance.
The G.I. Generation (Hero, born 1901-1924) developed a special and “good kid” reputation as the beneficiaries of new playgrounds, scouting clubs, vitamins, and child-labor restrictions. They came of age with the sharpest rise in schooling ever recorded. As young adults, their uniformed corps patiently endured depression and heroically conquered foreign enemies. In a midlife subsidized by the G.I. Bill, they built gleaming suburbs, invented miracle vaccines, plugged “missile gaps,” and launched moon rockets. Their unprecedented grip on the Presidency began with a New Frontier, a Great Society, and Model Cities, but wore down through Vietnam, Watergate, deficits, and problems with “the vision thing.” As “senior citizens,” they safeguarded their own “entitlements” but had little influence over culture and values.
The Millennial Generation (Hero?, born 1982-?) first arrived when “Babies on Board” signs appeared. As abortion and divorce rates ebbed, the popular culture began stigmatizing hands-off parental styles and recasting babies as special. Child abuse and child safety became hot topics, while books teaching virtues and values became best-sellers. Today, politicians define adult issues (from tax cuts to deficits) in terms of their effects on children. Hollywood is replacing cinematic child devils with child angels, and cable TV and the internet are cordoning off “child-friendly” havens. While educators speak of “standards” and “cooperative learning,” school uniforms are surging in popularity.