and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account."
-The Art of Manliness
I wrote recently that evolution is a natural part of our planetary ecosystem, and I was quite impressed by the positive engagement which I've seen in the short time since it's been out. It seems the idea that "death represents progress" has resonated pretty strongly with a lot of you. Again, while I'm reluctant to suggest that we should be optimistic about anyone dying, I think it's altogether healthy to view change and disruption not as a thing to be feared, but rather as a natural side effect of growth within our society. While changes can always seem scary at the time, the greatest lesson of evolution (and the continued survival of life on our planet) can each be attributed to the same fundamental truth: We can and will adapt.
Brett McKay, the author of the above article, also suggests that, based on the parallels between the events leading up to the last great depression and subsequent world war, it's reasonable to assume that we too may face a monumental and very threatening crisis during our lifetime. While nobody can ever predict with any certainty when a crisis will strike or what form it may take, mathematicians and intellectuals of our time are becoming increasingly wary of what they refer to as "black swan events." These events, while being extremely difficult to forecast, are both highly-influential and often overlooked in their importance at the time, but with the crystallizing effect that history can have, they usually become easier to explain over longer periods afterwards. Two such events, according to the developer of the black swan model, are the events of September 11th, and the global financial crisis, both of which sparked major worldwide changes but were later rationalized by most mainstream thinkers as simple aberrations in history.
If, as some people suggest, these are portents of a greater crisis to come, then it will fall to us as young adults to be the metaphorical (and possibly literal) foot-soldiers who respond to such a crisis, putting our youth and vitality to work in solving the problems which were largely left unchecked by the previous generations.
It may seem like an act of pure hubris to compare our generation to the "Greatest Generation" who fought in World War II, but when you look at the similarities between what they faced in their younger years and what we're facing right now, it's not altogether irrational to say that we're on the cusp of something which could be equally likely to define us as a generation. While the middle-aged will likely be the ones who precipitate such a crisis and inevitably seek to provide leadership throughout it, the task of actually accomplishing the hard fighting to bring their vision to reality will inevitably fall to us.
Some people believe that the millennial generation is too self-absorbed and lazy to accomplish anything nearly as remarkable as what the Greatest Generation achieved. I'm sure the old-timers of the 1930's said the same thing about the young adults of their era as well. When I look at the pure creativity and raw talent of my peers, I don't see aimless apathy, but rather a hunger to bring about something revolutionary and unheard of in our society. I personally believe that it's only a matter of time before we transform our world in ways our elders never would have dared to dream possible.
If a monumental struggle does come to our society, it will be necessary for all of us to put aside our differences and suppress our fiercely independent tendencies to band together for the common good. Because polarization seems to be the order of the day right now, I trust that we will have to wait just a little while longer for the crisis to really materialize. When it does, I hope we're ready for it. I would much rather be remembered as part of the generation that rose to the challenge, rather than the one that selfishly backed away.