Friday, February 19, 2010

Indications of the Fourth Turning

"These kids are so over-scheduled and tired"

The Race to Nowhere is an important indication of a major cultural and societal shift that is taking place. Generational experts Strauss and Howe called it the Fourth Turning and, from the Financial Crisis of 2008 to the election of the first self-consciously styled "Post-Boomer" president in that same year, the secular crisis of generational realignment they predicted in the 1990s seems to be taking place. In discussing this generational shift Howe has this to say:
"We think that generations move history along and prevent society from suffering too long under the excesses of any particular generation."
What is interesting about The Race to Nowhere is it focus on meaning, especially over a decade after the Boomers par excellence, the Clintons, sought to imbue us with the Politics of Meaning. Because this time Generation X is seeking to articulate the meaning. The film is also a sign of potential generational cooperation.

This film indicates that adults, especially Gen Xers, are reacting to the excesses of how the Millennials have been raised, while at the same time listening to some of the idealism of the Boomers, and attempting to bring some practical reality and implementation to Boomer ideals.

The hyper-scheduled herd of Millennials that the Baby Boomers first began raising and planning for in the 80s, with their Baby-on-Board signs and vicarious goal-setting, are developing some ominous habits of shallowness and depression. As Strauss and Howe indicate in their book, The Millennials Rising, the great Civic potential of the Millennials can develop either virtuously -in a "let's all pitch in and solve problems together" kind of way, or they can develop the vices of the herd, steamrolling all in their path so that everyone gets the trophy to which they have been told they are entitled.

The last time this generational alignment happened in this country, when the newest Artist generation was age 6 and under, was 1931. In that year, unemployment rose over 16% two years after the crash of 1929 and many auto-manufacturers went out of business; roughly 2500 banks went out of business. President Hoover said in March that "prosperity is just around the corner.
"Artists are, "subtle, indecisive, emotional and compromising, often having to deal with feelings of repression and inner conflict. They grow up as the over-protected children of a Crisis, come of age as the sensitive young adults of a High, rebel as indecisive midlife leaders during an Awakening, and become the empathic elders of an Unraveling. The Silent Generation is an example of an Artist generation. The Homeland Generation is expected to emerge as the next generation of this example."
We can see the similarities in the times, and the concern and care for the next generation. As Howe says:
This generation will have no memory of anything before the financial meltdown of 2008 and the events that are about to unfold in America. If our research is correct, this generation’s childhood will be a time of urgency and rapid historical change. Unlike the Millennials, who will remember childhood during the good times of 1980s and ’90s, the Homelanders will recall their childhood as a time of national crisis.
In a time of crisis, how do we change a road to nowhere, into a road to somewhere. And how can we ensure that somewhere is not anywhere?

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