Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Generation Q: Outrage is dead. Please help us ...

I "caught" Emily reading David Br__k's "Odyssey" OpEd this morning. She was lured by the intriguing title, but I didn't bite. I know exposure to Brooks causes brain damage; I ought to block his URL to protect our children.

On the other hand, Friedman, once every seven months, by purest chance, writes something non-toxic. This time he wrote about his daughter's generation (emphases mine):

Generation Q - New York Times

... Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good. When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention. And we’ll just keep piling it on them.

There is a good chance that members of Generation Q will spend their entire adult lives digging out from the deficits that we — the “Greediest Generation,” epitomized by George W. Bush — are leaving them.

When I was visiting my daughter at her college, she asked me about a terrifying story that ran in this newspaper on Oct. 2, reporting that the Arctic ice cap was melting “to an extent unparalleled in a century or more” — and that the entire Arctic system appears to be “heading toward a new, more watery state” likely triggered by “human-caused global warming.”

“What happened to that Arctic story, Dad?” my daughter asked me. How could the news media just report one day that the Arctic ice was melting far faster than any models predicted “and then the story just disappeared?” Why weren’t any of the candidates talking about it? Didn’t they understand: this has become the big issue on campuses?

No, they don’t seem to understand. They seem to be too busy raising money or buying votes with subsidies for ethanol farmers in Iowa. The candidates could actually use a good kick in the pants on this point. But where is it going to come from?

Generation Q would be doing itself a favor, and America a favor, if it demanded from every candidate who comes on campus answers to three questions: What is your plan for mitigating climate change? What is your plan for reforming Social Security? What is your plan for dealing with the deficit — so we all won’t be working for China in 20 years?

America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twentysomethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.

Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy didn’t change the world by asking people to join their Facebook crusades or to download their platforms. Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way — by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall. Virtual politics is just that — virtual...

I've already written that we boomers have failed our generational test. We bear the same relationship to "Generation Q" as America does to the world; the appropriate response to our moral criticism is bitter laughter.


Someone needs to act. We know true leadership is suicidal for a 21st century American politician, leadership has to come from someone on the brighter side of 30.

Please? The world needs you. Try to shake off your Future Shock, your justifiable nihilism, and your despair. I'm on my knees now. Pretty Please?

Update: for another opinion on Mr. F's column.

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