The Z’s, the Alphas and Evolution

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April 16, 2019-

Yesterday was a bear, for many.  The damage to Notre Dame Cathedral (which I have only seen from outside) and to Al Aqsa Mosque (in which I had the honour of praying with the Imam, in 1982) was serious, but in both cases, not irreparable.

For me, it was a productive day- visiting the new Cuppers Coffee House location, attending a Baha’i study circle and getting in another exercise session were pluses.  A new online acquaintance asked me what I was doing for the day, and my response was “Tending to my personal affairs”, which at the time was weighing on me and not what I wanted to detail, to a relative stranger.  Turns out, the whole process took less than ten minutes, and all’s as well as it can be, for the time being.

I was brought further out of my shyness and awkwardness, at Cuppers, when several young people chose to sit down on either side of me.  Something refreshing about Millennials, and more so about Gen Z people, is their overall forthrightness.  Growing up always questioning my worth as a human being was a real pain.  The younger generations see no reason why anyone should do that, though I’m sure they have their moments of insecurity. Nonetheless, Gen Z’s mantra, “I got you”, obviating any lengthy explanation of one’s feelings or opinions, is actually a treasure.

I see intuition becoming a hard-wired thing.  Yesterday, there was a post about five teenagers who helped an elderly man get up from the sidewalk, where he’d fallen, walking home with him and cleaning his wounds.  Goodness prevails here, and is more common than its opposite.  The media has a label ready for those born since 2010:  Generation Alpha.  I haven’t had much contact with younger kids lately, but judging from the intuition levels and cooperative spirit of my grandnieces and nephews, and online friends’ children, I would say the label, as contrived as it sounds, is actually spot on.  They, with their immediate elders, will be the ones working to reverse a host of problems that foolishness and greed have bestowed on the human race.  All this makes New York’s recently enacted “nonmedical abortionist” law that much more ludicrous, besides being downright menacing.  The world needs its rising generations, even those who have some physical or mental flaws.

So, on we go, and I feel more confidence than at this time last week.

Boomer-Rang

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December 16, 2018, Prescott-

At this morning’s breakfast, a fellow Legionnaire voiced his occasional plaint about “the kids”:  “I’m glad that I’m at the age I am now.  I don’t think I want to see the world, after the younger generation has been in charge.”

Ho-hum!  This man is a member of “The Silent Generation”, those born between 1935-48.  Another member of that generation retorted that this is how it always has been- everyone dumps on the young.  I concur with that last assessment, remembering the reaction of both the aforementioned age group, and the GI Generation who preceded, to the antics of us Baby Boomers.

I admit it- I was too crazy about girls to care about much else, before joining the Army and learning  a goodly amount of discipline.  Even then, lovely  female faces and physiques had my near full attention, when I didn’t have a weapon in my hands, wasn’t in military formation or wasn’t focused on keeping accountable mail in a safe and secure channel of post.  My work history, though, has been a quite fair record of achievement and at least I have maintained the work ethic my parents instilled in all of us.

Penny and I imparted that same work ethic in our son, a Millennial. He has hit his stride in the military and has never ignored his considerable responsibilities, especially in his late teens and twenties.  I have a higher opinion of Millennials than even some later Gen-X’ers, those who were born in between our two generations.  No one actually seems to like the generation that comes right after them.  I had a cynical view of Generation X, until I actually worked with some of its members and  saw that there is, in reality, no full-on generation of slackers.  The world won’t let this happen, and few people like the results of slacking:  Poverty, debt and an authoritarian regime.

From what I’ve seen, I am certain we will, as I’ve said before, be just fine-with all of the generations working together.  Millennials and Generation Z will make it happen, just as we did.

Gen Z Charades

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October 20, 2016, Prescott-

A little boy and his sister greeted me, when I sat down behind their table, this evening, in a local pizza shop.

As time went on, and their father continued to talk with their uncle, the kids and their two cousins engaged in a game of charades.  There was no whining about when they were about to leave, just four children enjoying one another’s company.  The girl was the most inventive of the group, portraying everything from a softball pitcher to Nemo, the cartoon fish.

This is a bit of irony, compared with what I see lying ahead for the generation that will both follow the Millennials and will need to work, hand in glove with their immediate elders, in cleaning up so many of the messes that are being left them.  There will be no pretending for Generation Z, when they come of age.

Ways of solving problems will be found, the likes of which will seem as exotic, to any Baby Boomers who live into our eighties and nineties, as the i-Pad, solar energy and electronic music did, to those of the GI Generation.  Humanity will prevail, for many reasons, not the least of which is the hard-wired internal technology of the two rising generations.

Charades will be seen for what they are:  A parlour game, not a ruse for ignoring pressing issues.

The Road to 65, Mile 334: Independence

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October 28, 2015, Chino Valley- We have reached the point where whatever might have passed for a “honeymoon”, between my present school and me, has dissipated.  This is not a bad thing.  It means only that my stated mission, to safeguard the well-being of twenty-one children, while challenging them, academically and socially, is more on my shoulders than it is prescribed by those above me.

Administration has its place, and it is a vital place, indeed.  Teamwork is also vital.  Yet, at the end of the day, it is what a teacher can accomplish, when everyone else around him or her is either indisposed or overwhelmed, that makes the difference in the life of a learner.  It is easy for a child to love and admire a teacher who is ever congenial and accommodating.  The rub comes when the docent holds the bar higher.

I have to raise my bar a bit higher, day by day.  I see things coming, that must be faced, and solved, by the now mostly adult Millennials, and by the emerging Generation Z, who include all the children I have taught for the last five years, and all whom I will teach, for the next five.  They have a lot of innate wisdom, but they also face many of the same conflicts and growth challenges that we all faced in childhood and adolescence.  In addition, all the failures of those of us before them will lie at their feet- just as those of our forebears  cast shadows on our tenure as the generation of leadership.

I seek to foster independence, but not swagger, bravado and insolence, about which more tomorrow.