In about 1770 B.C.E. Zimri-Lim, the King of Mari (a small Kingdom in what is now Iraq) married his oldest daughter off to a neighboring King. When she failed to produce an heir in a timely fashion, he sent a younger daughter to be a second wife – very common thing at the time, misogyny is not the theme of this post. The first daughter complained to her father about the second overstepping her authority as a second wife, when the first daughter did produce an heir before her younger sister the younger daughter threatened to throw herself from the walls of the city if she couldn’t come home. The King lamented that when he was young his sisters did their duty without complaint, his children’s generation were spoiled.
“Kids these days” is a common refrain. Well I have kids these days and let me tell you – they’re great. I mean they’re kids, they do stupid things, they act impulsively, they’re selfish – you know they’re Presidential. But those character traits are based on age, not generation. When we say, “Kid’s these days” or lament some seeming generational theme what we’re really upset with is ourselves. We are mad that the next generation isn’t better than we were in all the ways we are certain we could have improved the world had we simply had 45 year old experience to go along with our 20 year old energy. But that’s not how it works. The next generation may not fix the problems we’ve left them with – but their seeming lack of work ethic, decorum, civic virtue or whatever other character flaw we throw at them is projection, not reality. While our current political climate seems hopeless, and I put the odds of one-party oligarchic rule at about 25% , baring that unfortunate future I think the actual members of this younger generation (not the Millennials per se – they’re 30 – the 20 or so and younger) my actually make the world a better place.