Early indications are that many of the rising generation — Generation Z — are reacting to some of their Generation X and millennial parents’ seemingly unmoored lives by anchoring themselves back to traditional family and organized religion.
Undeniably, the ubiquitous baby boomer generation defiantly reordered American society through their self-willed revolutions over sex, drugs, divorce, abortion, race and feminism, among others. While a couple of these revolutions perhaps were overdue and important to the welfare of the American society, others have been very destructive. The boomers’ passionate pursuit of anti-establishment protests and lifestyles extensively transformed the culture and its important underpinning institutions, including the government, education, religion and, most significantly, the family.
For example, the boomers’ consequential impact on the traditional family and organized religion has resulted in much higher rates of family breakup and the numerical decline of nearly all religions. These higher rates of dissolution and decline have had traumatic repercussions for many of the boomer children.
To compensate for being raised in a deluge of disruption, many of Generation X and millennials were overindulged by their boomer parents. The combination of disarray and entitlement these two generations were exposed to, has caused many among them to feel emotionally and spiritually adrift.
Attempts to fill the emotional and spiritual void resulting from the dissolution of the family and decline of religious discipline in their lives have left many of Generation X and millennials desperately seeking alternative paths to spiritual stability and emotional ease. Often, their chosen alternatives have failed miserably to counterbalance their parents earlier disordering of the traditional family and rejection of organized religious discipline.
While the boomers bask in their 50-year revolutionary handiworks, proudly celebrating their defiance that changed American society forever, Generation X and millennials unfortunately suffer the unanticipated destructive consequences of their parents’ insatiable thirst for upheaval — ever seeking the highs experienced during the revolutionary days of their youth.
In the midst of constant chaos and confusion created by the self-indulging boomers, some are looking beyond Generation X and millennials, placing hope in the rising Generation Z, anticipating a new “Great Awakening” that will help stabilize the American society. There is hope Generation Z is destined to save America from the calamitous consequences of their grandparents’ narcissistic compulsion for disruption that has dominated and depressed their unwitting parents.
Early studies suggest that Generation Z is more independent, responsible and even a shade more conservative than their Generation X and millennial parents. In fact, some sociologists are suggesting they are more like the G.I. generation — the “Greatest Generation” ever. If, in fact, Generation Z turns out to be even slightly more community oriented, family focused and religious, it could actually accomplish what its Generation X and millennial parents couldn’t and its boomer grandparents wouldn’t.
Generation Z’s predicted greatness could very well rescue America from the damage of their boomer grandparents, who even today are politically overwhelming the nation with their bombastic excesses, boastfully chanting, “We will make America great again,” while refusing to accept responsibility for wrecking it in the first place and weakening many of their own children along with it.
With its size, unprecedented diversity and sense of equality, Generation Z could bring unparalleled stability, peace and prosperity to all of America. Perhaps, Generation Z, with all its potential, will at the right moment in history prove worthy of the eventual and inevitable trust placed in it by all those who truly do want America to be great again, and not just for the privileged few but for all.
Stuart C. Reid, Ogden, is a penitent baby boomer with Generation Z grandchildren.