For those old enough to remember the 1950’s you remember the typical American family where, you walked to school, mom stayed home and dad lived with you and had a job. The economy was driven by pent up demand for consumer goods after a World War which brought sacrifice to every home.
A lot of men spent their late teens and early 20’s in the harsh conditions of war in Europe or facing vicious brutality in the South Pacific. Their dreams for the future were formulated not within the ivy halls of a university, but in foxholes, and craters of destruction. It was the school of hard knocks, filled with an overdose of reality, an atmosphere that causes a man to grow up fast.
When the war was over America had a generation of men that had learned the value of team work, they were full of motivation and dreams. Working hard was not an issue, they had already faced a depression and war, and they knew what it was like to do without. Now was their time and America was their place.
Neighborhoods were carved out of farms to satisfy the dreams and demands for home ownership. The camaraderie of military life extended to the neighborhoods where you knew your neighbors, they were a real part of your life. There was a strong moral fabric underlying life in America, people took responsibility for themselves and their neighbors it was the natural thing to do.
Today we talk about climate change as if change is something new, academic study will tell us the climate has been in constant change for billions of years. The climate is never static, like the tides and the waves of the sea it forever moves. The more important change we need to discuss is the change in our social fabric, our moral foundation as a nation, by comparison climate change is merely a diversion and distraction.
Times change, I get it, and nothing stays the same but the questions I must ask are these, as a society are we changing in the right direction? Are we walking a path of convenience and comfort on the road to complacency and collapse? Have we passed on to the next generation the lessons of life, the moral character and an understanding of their personal responsibility to their family, to their community and yes to their nation?
Surely life is different for the youth of today, times have changed. Life has changed and we must change, but because we live in a land of liberty we can choose the change we want, we can dream and walk our own path. The path of life is an individual path of challenge and choice, it is our responsibility to provide a compass for guidance, and to teach the next generation how to choose their path.
Increasingly many young people are choosing not to face the challenges, not to take responsibility, not to become part of the fabric that is America. The days of volunteerism and community contribution are fading, and yet the needs continues as we go forward we are coming to a crossroad.
Even the basic foundation of self-responsibility is showing signs of crumbling. The labor-force participation rate (the share of people who either have a job or are actively looking for a job) has been dropping for some time. The most alarming trend however is found within the demographics of what should be the most productive workers, those between the ages of 25-54.
Make no mistake that trend will have a negative impact on government’s ability to cover the cost of Social Security but that is not the worst of it. No, the larger impact is the social change of not working, not gaining and understanding the values of working, not only financially but the greater values derived from the work experience in an emotional, physical and mental sense.
The tides of time and weather change, and we have little choice but to adapt to that change. The changes we can control are the changes we make along the path of life and the benefits of experience we pass to the next generation. Changing the direction of Labor-force participation should be a national priority.
Taking action and taking the high road will not always easy. Changing the direction of a generation is a challenge but facing the challenges head on has rewards, just ask those from the “greatest generation”. They grew up during a depression, found sacrifice in war and built a nation from experience found in the ashes of destruction, they worked to toward goals founded in hopes and dreams. They did it with hard work and labor-force participation, we need to change in that direction once again.