Wisdom of elders
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It was great to see an opinion piece based on William Strauss and Neil Howe's generational approach to history ("The Problem Is Us: Will the Millennial Generation Repair the Culture Divisions Left by the Baby Boomers?" Aug. 26 Forum). Unfortunately, the author oversimplified and consequently distorted a complex theory. He painted a one-sided, basically negative picture of the baby boomers, blaming them for creating the many problems of contemporary society. That is a naive reading of generational theory, which recognizes that each generation has a distinctive and necessary role to play in the evolution of society.
The author also neglected to mention that Messrs. Strauss and Howe considered it very possible that the boomers -- as a "prophetic" generation now entering elderhood -- will rise to the occasion and provide the wisdom needed for younger generations to take constructive action during our present time of crisis. All three of the current (adult) generations -- the boomers, Generation X and the Millennials -- must work in concert to solve critical problems related to a dysfunctional economic system and the deterioration of the natural environment.
Leaving it to the Millennials to "clean up our messes" would simply create a bigger mess. As with the "Greatest Generation" of World War II and the valiant soldiers of the Civil War, the wisdom of elders is needed to guide the heroism of the young. Like the boomers, both Abraham Lincoln and FDR were members of prophetic generations. Like them, it is incumbent upon the boomers to provide the sagacity needed to deal with societal problems that were not solely of their making.
ROBERT J. FEIKEMA
First Published September 2, 2012 12:00 am