Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
I came across comments from a prominent preacher regarding the deplorable condition of young people. He complained that they were characterized by “inexperience, indiscretion, immature judgment, uncurbed curiosity, undisciplined appetites and misunderstood passion.” He went on to say that they despised revered traditions and engaged in “vulgar dances, shameful parties, suggestive songs and obsession with sex.” Their motto is “try anything once.”
I found these statements in a book of sermons my wife brought home from one of her excursions to garage sales. The book was published in 1923. The youth about whom he spoke later survived the Great Depression and led our nation through World War II. The youth of his day are gone, buried in the graves that populate our cemeteries. A 16-year-old in 1923 would be 115 today. They lived out their lifespan, as we all shall do, and generations of youth have come and gone since.
Sociologists have tried to categorize generations by their common historical context. Most start with the “Lost Generation,” those born between 1890 and 1915. They were born as the industrial revolution revved up. They drove the first automobiles and flew the first airplanes. “The Greatest Generation” (1910-1925) stormed Normandy, launched the Space Race and landed a man on the moon. “The Silent Generation” (1925-1945) left their mark with Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Robert Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood and Bernie Sanders.
“Baby Boomers” (1946-1964) got their name from the “boom” that followed WWII. They were the hippy generation who later developed PCs that connected the world. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump were all born in 1946. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are also members of this generation.
“Generation X” (1965-1980), often dismissed in their youth, earned a reputation for entrepreneurship. In 2002, three out of four companies were started by Gen Xers. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and the founders of Google are Gen Xers.
“Millennials” (1981-1996) are the first to grow up with computers and cell phones. Mark Zuckerberg is a millennial.
“Generation Z” (1997-2012) is the first generation to have no experience of life before the internet. They are the youngest, largest and most ethnically diverse population in history.
It is too early to characterize the “Alpha Generation, (2013-2021), the first to be born entirely in the 21st century.
In the next few years, we will witness a generational transfer of power. Joe Biden is 78. Mitch McConnel is 79. Nancy Pelosi is 80. Every generation must pass the baton. Every new generation must run their race.
Years ago, I adopted a life goal: “To encourage the younger generation to do greater things than I ever dreamed or imagined.” Many are already doing that. One of the most important things we can do is encourage those who are younger.
When Moses knew he was dying and would never enter the promised land, the Lord said to him, “Charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people” (Deuteronomy 3:28). The Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.