For some years I have been concerned about the fate of my generation in the world. As a student of generations, I happen to (depending on one’s boundary lines) fall in the cusp between late-cohort Generation X and early cohort Generation Y. In personality and life experience I am definitely a part of Generation X and not Generation Y, which will be especially evident for those who look up the “Nomad Generation” type in the Howe and Strauss scheme . My concern was that I was born for evil times, something I have believed since I was a child, and that has only been increasingly obvious the longer I have lived and as I have witnessed unraveling and crisis and disaster and the struggle merely to survive against adversity in so many aspects of life from the time I was an infant.
Nonetheless, this longstanding personal concern of mine became a broader concern of mine over the last few years. When I read about French young adults in my generation rioting in the streets against work laws that would discriminate against my generation by failing to give them the same standard of work rules that they gave those older, I was concerned. When I saw endless calculations and changes and reforms that sought to make life tougher on my generation, whether that was a glut of highly educated young adults all over the world, or the growing realization that the social entitlements to which our society has become addicted would not be available for my generation because the money is running out, my concern grew, as I realized that the evil timing of my life was not merely a personal phenomenon but a generational phenomenon. It was not merely that I was cursed from the cradle (although that was certainly the case), but that the curse was a broader one than merely a personal one.
In looking at the peaceful protesters in the Middle East speaking out against their corrupt leaders, speaking out, showing a willingness to take the heat for freedom, I see a great deal of myself in these courageous, perhaps even foolhardy young adults with great ideals but no prospects who have been driven in their despair to destroy the corruption that imprisons their societies, no matter the cost. Though I am gravely concerned about how it will all end up, I see their own actions and resolve to fight against corrupt authoritarian regimes as very similar to my own. I recognize a kinship with these revolutionaries in the streets, something I find deeply terrifying, despite the vast differences in culture.
This identification is possible because the same conditions exist in many places. The same dry brush of cynicism, anger, frustration, concern, fear, and resolve are in many areas, not just in the Middle East. There are corrupt regimes in nations, corporations, churches, and it is the job of the righteous to speak out against such corruption wherever it may be found. Too many people from earlier generations have exploited institutional power for their own selfish benefit while failing to serve the people at large. The time has come for these people to pay for their sins. When I read my own passionate blog entries, or look at the protests in other parts of the world, I see the same underlying problems, with different cultural traditions, different local situations, but the same key issues at stake. And I grow increasingly concerned about what it means.
When I see corrupt regimes claim to be using “proportionate force” while gunning down unarmed demonstrators, or when people make threats against my own life, I see the same evil spirit at work. This is not merely a personal matter–though there are always personal wrongs that motivate people to speak up. There is so much corruption to overcome, so many entrenched elites that need to be removed, that it seems overwhelming. And how does one build a better world that one has never seen. How does one overcome the burdens and weight of generations of oppression and abuse without knowing what a better way looks like in any aspect of life–whether that is in one’s family, one’s church, one’s community, one’s society, or one’s world. Only God can make such miracles happen–will we be so fortunate to receive the wisdom and vision needed to do this, or will this be yet another false dawn in an endless cycle. Only time can tell, but it’s hard to feel optimistic in the meantime.
Meanwhile, when I look and see people my age, with my sort of personality and hostility to tyranny and oppression and corruption be slaughtered like sheep in the streets by mercenaries and evil oppressors, I know the same evil that hunts those innocent lives seeks my life as well. For these people are not so different from myself that I do not feel a kinship with them, with their struggle, and with their hopes and dreams, even if I feel gloomy and pessimistic about where it will lead. For I do not know if they turn their eyes and see people like me as their kindred, or merely as their enemy. The way of the evil one has always been to divide and conquer. Will we ever learn?
We remember Nomads best for their rising-adult years of hell-raising (Paxton Boys, Missouri Raiders, rumrunners) and for their midlife years of hands-on, get-it-done leadership (Francis Marion, Stonewall Jackson, George Patton). Underprotected as children, they become overprotective parents. Their principal endowments are in the domain of liberty, survival, and honor. Their best-known leaders include: Nathaniel Bacon and William Stoughton; George Washington and John Adams; Ulysses Grant and Grover Cleveland; Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. These have been cunning, hard-to-fool realists—taciturn warriors who prefer to meet problems and adversaries one-on-one. They include the only two Presidents who had earlier hanged a man (Washington and Cleveland), one governor who hanged witches (Stoughton), and several leaders who had earlier led troops into battle (Bacon, Washington, Grant, Truman, and Eisenhower).
A lifecycle outline:
- As NOMADS replace Prophets in childhood during an Awakening, they are left underprotected at a time of social convulsion and adult self-discovery.
- As alienated NOMADS replace Prophets in young adulthood during an Unraveling, they become brazen free agents, lending their pragmatism and independence to an era of growing social turmoil.
- As pragmatic NOMADS replace Prophets in midlife during a Crisis, they apply toughness and resolution to defend society while safeguarding the interests of the young.
- As exhausted NOMADS replace Prophets in elderhood during a High, they slow the pace of social change, shunning the old crusades in favor of simplicity and survivalism.