What gives us a great advantage in analyzing the levels of participation in The American Experience is our personal experiences with these generations:
- Our families come from homes with many “G.I.” stars in the windows.
- We ourselves were front-line warriors of the “Silent Generation.”
- We were mentors to thousands of “Boomers.”
- We have adopted many of the abandoned “X’ers.”
- We are parenting the neglected “Y’s” and “Z’s.”
The truth is that we have first-hand experience with each generation. The hypotheses that we generate are partly due to these experiences, but mostly due to research. The table that we have summarized is validated (see Table 7-1).
Table 7-1. Level of Participation in the American Experience
“The Greatest” or “G.I. Generation” rates highest on all the conditions of The American Experience:
This is largely because these people were at the “genesis” of the 20th century American Experience. In other words, they defined the experience by overcoming “The Greatest Depression” and conquering “The Great Malignancy.” In so doing, they learned to relate interdependently, participate in an enlightened manner, and enterprise entrepreneurially.
“The Silent Ones”
“The Silent Generation” was not far-removed from the “genesis” of The American Experience in the 20th century:
This is largely due to their “modeling” of the genesis experience. They had the “G.I.s” as models for courage and hope for change. By filling in the empty spaces left behind by the more-than-grand “G.I.s,” they contributed their competencies to the welfare of all. In the face of the threat of the Nuclear Holocaust, they established themselves as “helpers” in the Judaic-Christian tradition of healing.
“The Baby Boomer Generation” was removed from the genesis of The American Experience yet tutored “experientially” by “The Competent Generation:”
The resultant independency gave the “Boomers” the tools of survival: in consensus-building, they could cooperate or compete; in governance, they could be representative or authoritarian; in enterprise, they could be enterprising or controlling. They have proven to be so. Like chameleons, they can be any color they choose to be out of their own self-interests.
“Generation X” was isolated from the entire American Experience:
“Generation X” is a lost generation. “Didactically” abandoned by “The Boomers,” they lived or died with the apparent randomness of the marketplace. Basically competitive for the “bonus baby” rewards of “Boomers,” they tried to fill “places in the spaces” left unattended by the consensus system. When in command, they are authoritarian, if not totalitarian, in an attempt to control the competition. Mainly, though, they create “spaces” by undermining authority and denying fiduciary responsibilities. At best, they are not integrated in the marketplace.
“Y’s and Z’s”
These generations may be stalked by the “reinforcing” mechanisms of the marketers and fund-raisers of cyber-space, but they have little if anything to contribute to our communities because they do not know anything of value, they do not want to meet any requirements; they have only “Virtual Values.” Period!
Their dependent reactivity to the “Real World” is simply summarized: “Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll decide whether I want to do it!”
Summary and Transition
We may obtain consensual validation from our 20th century experiences. “The Greatest Generation” was entrenched in leadership roles for more than 50 years. Witness, ten straight presidents from 1941 to 1992! After skipping “The Silent Generation,” the “Boomer-children” of the “G.I.s” were immediately ensconced.
During the “G.I.’s Reign of Power,” they initiated most of the grand visions of the 20th century: the G.I. Bill and Civil Rights domestically; Free Trade and Human Rights internationally. The “Competent or Silent Generation” managed only to implement these missions.
In turn, “The Boomers” served only to sully these great missions with rights for multinational corporations and their lobbyists and trillions of dollars of debts for America in non-reciprocating trade relationships.
Today, the “X, Y, Zs” are simply forgotten “cannon-fodder” in these domestic and foreign machinations and manipulations.
In short, there were no generative new ideas contributed by the later generations. Even the “Boomer” candidates for president have proposals only for redistributing wealth—and none for generating wealth!
In summary, the levels of participation in The American Experience are directly a function of their distance from the genesis of the experience:
- The Citizen Soldiers” of World War II understood interdependency, enlightenment, and entrepreneurialism.
- “The Competent Helpers” of the Post-War Enlightenment modeled collaboration, representation, and capitalism.
- “The Incompetent Boomers” engineered personal independence in every consensus-building situation in order to derail the requirements.
- “The Abandoned X’ers” defaulted on all responsibilities by competing and commanding in select niches in order to survive the requirements.
- The “Y’s” and “Z’s” engage in dependent reactivity in order to guard their retreat into “The Virtual World.”
In transition, American Civilization, like any civilization, historically moves by the leadership of one generation empowering the leadership of the next generation. American leadership has failed to do so. American Civilization is failing as a consequence.
Think about it!
The “G.I.’s” handed off to the “Boomers”—their own children! G.H.W. Bush chose Dan Quayle, a “Boomer” as his running mate, passing-over the leading “Competent” candidates such as Richard Lugar. As a consequence, he broke the string of hand-offs and we have now to suffer through the classism of the Ivy League debates every four years (ten of the last 12 candidates were ‘vetted” by the Harvard and Yale dynasties).
The “X’ers” were never adopted. Unless their parents, the “Competent Ones” made commitments to rear yet another generation, they are lost and forlorn and demanding—a generation of pseudo-specialists!
As for the “Y’s” and “Z’s,” we must learn about them because we cannot forget about them!
“If we don’t know, they won’t grow!
To sum, we Americans “have rained on our own parade!”
- By replacing socio-centricity with ego-centricity;
- By replacing enlightenment with totalitarianism;
- By replacing entrepreneurism with control.
In short, The American Experience has become “Un-American!”