Generational Commitment

In the United States today, there are generally accepted generational definitions. The Greatest Generation consists of those who experienced World War II either as adults or children. They served in war (The G.I. Generation) or lived through it as children (The Silent Generation). Baby Boomers are those born from 1946-1964. They experienced the greatest change in economic prosperity since the founding of our country. Space exploration, women in the workforce, the Civil Rights Movement, and the counter-cultural revolution were influences in their psyche. Generation X stretches birth dates from 1965-1985. Technological advances in entertainment and mass communications resulted in a new genre of media activity. Generation Y born 1978-2000 is normally referred to as the Millennials. The greatest impact on their lives was the rise of the information age, the internet, and politically, new wars in the Middle East. Generation Z are those Americans born after 2000. They are facing an unsettling time in the marketplace, the workforce, international affairs and global economics.

What’s important about these differences is how generations view problems today based on their historical, technological and cultural upbringing. Because of the change in technology and the speed and availability of information, demand for instant answers and instant gratification has accelerated. The concept of understanding a problem, relating to it personally, and thinking through a solution is different to each generation based upon that generation’s cultural experiences and technological exposure.

We think of generations in lineal terms. We shouldn’t.

The generations co-exist at the same time, facing the same problems, largely with the same needs, only with different expectations. The diversity of generations form the fabric of society that we call America today. We interact in life as if we’re not dependent upon each other. We are more dependent upon each other today than ever before.

There is a binding effect upon us that has nothing to do with place in history, technological familiarity, global society or cultural conflict. It is binding principles that determine sound character and righteous endeavor. It is the commitment to eternal values and virtues that have been the foundation of human flourishing since the beginning of time.

There is a purpose and a process to the continuity of humanity. Each generation wants, at its core, to pass on to the next generation a better life than it inherited. Part and parcel of this desire would be to leave a legacy of a sound financial system facilitating higher paying jobs. Further, there are values about relationships, decency, intellectual pursuits, government service, and honest business practices that permeate and strengthen the bonds. Compassion, fairness, respect, faith, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you are examples of attributes of a munificent generational philosophy. Defining truth and honor as a consistent component of eternal values is critical to this definition of who we are as a people and a country. Such virtues must be passed on and supported from one generation to the next.

The categories of generations can be collapsed into three large age groups: 60 and up (the Mature generation), 35 to 60 (the Workforce generation), and 16 to 35 (the Preparation generation).

The 60+ group is in or approaching retirement. Their commitment should be to leave the next generation a sound financial system in both government and the private sector. This is a key component of passing on more than they inherited. They instinctively strive to pass on the values espoused by our ancestors.

The 35 to 60 age group is either at or entering the peak of their career earnings. Their commitment should be to support the system to maintain its strength as they inherited it. They must believe in values as a constant and not as a variable axiom.

The 18 to 35 age group is in preparation to inherit the system. They must determine that values are real, that virtues make a difference, and that their inheritance is based upon a generational system that will become their obligation to enhance and pass on to the next generation.

In ancient China, one generation would begin a carving that was planned for the third generation to finish. The actual design and work of the piece of art was to be developed in three phases involving three generations of family craftsmen. Changes in the world today make generational planning very difficult, but not impossible.

The impact and importance of teaching eternal values never changes. This support system can be summed up in the guiding principle of generational commitment.

If we believe in and commit to a framework of support for each other in our phases of life, regardless of change or world politics, we will survive and prosper in that commitment.

In the Presidential election cycle of 2016, the country is becoming more divided along economic, political, gender, ethnic, and generational lines. Yes, we have problems. For health care, education, jobs, security and retirement, there appear to be no solutions without winners and losers. These conflicts appear to be overwhelming.

They are not if we think generationally in the collective, and not selfishly individually.

As representatives of each of our generations, we should think in terms of our promises to each other. The generation of 60+ should pursue the goal of delivering to the next generation a financially sound country. The Workforce generation should agree to enhance the system, denounce fraud, and promise to not only work hard, but work to maintain values. The millennial Preparation generation should promise to build on the virtues and values of prior generations to receive in good faith a system that is to be designed for their benefit.

In these promises to each other, we pursue sustainability for prosperity and purpose. On this commitment, the whole fabric of our society depends.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.

What do you believe?