Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
I came across comments from a prominent minister about the deplorable condition of young people. He complained that they were marked by “inexperience, indiscretion, immature judgment, unrestrained curiosity, undisciplined appetite and misunderstood passion”. He went on to say that they despised revered traditions and engaged in “vulgar dances, shameful parties, suggestive songs and obsession with sex”. Their motto is “try everything once”.
I found these statements in a sermon book my wife brought home from one of her trips to the flea market. The book was published in 1923. The youth he later talked about survived the Great Depression and led our nation through World War II. The youth of his time have disappeared and are buried in the graves that populate our cemeteries. A 16 year old in 1923 would be 115 today. They lived out their lifespans as we all will, and generations of youth have come and gone since then.
Sociologists have tried to categorize generations according to their common historical context. Most start with the “lost generation” born between 1890 and 1915. You were born in the wake of the industrial revolution. They drove the first cars and flew the first planes. “The Greatest Generation” (1910-1925) stormed Normandy, started the space race and landed a man on the moon. “The Silent Generation” (1925-1945) left its mark on Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Robert Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood and Bernie Sanders.
“Baby Boomers” (1946-1964) got their name from the “Boom” after the Second World War. They were the hippie generation who later developed personal computers that connected the world. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump were all born in 1946. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are also members of this generation.
The “Generation X” (1965-1980), who were often laid off in their youth, became known as entrepreneurs. In 2002, three out of four Gen Xers companies were founded. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and the founders of Google are Gen Xer.
“Millennials” (1981-1996) are the first to grow up with computers and cell phones. Mark Zuckerberg is a millennium old.
“Generation Z” (1997-2012) is the first generation that had no life experience before the Internet. They are the youngest, largest, and most ethnically diverse population in history.
It is too early to characterize the “Alpha Generation” (2013-2021), the first to be born fully in the 21st century.
In the next few years we will see a change of power between the generations. Joe Biden is 78. Mitch McConnel is 79. Nancy Pelosi is 80. Every generation has to pass the baton. Every new generation has to drive its race.
Years ago I set myself a goal in life: “To encourage the younger generation to do bigger things than I ever dreamed or imagined.” Many are already doing it. One of the most important things we can do is encourage those who are younger.
When Moses knew that he was going to die and would never enter the promised land, the Lord said to him: “Invite Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will pass over at the head of this people.” – Deuteronomy 3:28 ). The apostle Paul wrote to the young Timothy: “Let no one look down on your youth, but set an example for those who believe in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity”
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experiences from a belief perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email to [email protected]