What Defines a Generation?

by | Jun 11, 2020 | Unexpected Issues

History Does Repeat Itself

Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Robin Williams, Dead Poet’s Society, 1989

Generational Memory is Lost if Not Appreciated

Since 1776 each generation in this country has been defined by their times.  With all the generations that have walked this planet can we truly say that we learn from the experiences of others?

The Older Generation

My father was 5 years old in 1920.  My mother was not born yet.  Our parents and grandparents never explained to us, nor did they leave memoirs, of their experiences with:

  • World War I of 1917
  • The Spanish Flu of 1918
  • The Market Crash of 1929
  • Decade long unemployment of millions worldwide
  • The Great Depression
  • And if that was not enough…the final stage of the Second Industrial Revolution which eliminated old jobs in place of new ones

One thing is for sure…those experiences shaped how our parents and grandparents viewed life.  Their actions, conduct, and goals were molded by these traumatic experiences.

Here we are in 2020 and what do we see? I see 1920 happening again

A technological revolution taking the world by the throat and reshaping it much as the Industrial Revolution.  A Virus that has caused millions of infected people and millions of jobs lost, much as the Flu of 1917.  A stock market and financial system in turmoil much like the Great Depression of 1929, and this on the heels of the 2008 market crash, which was on the heels of the tech bubble of 2000, and all of that on the heels of the events of  9/11.

Reflection is something we humans generally do when we are sad.  But we should reflect today not out of sadness but out of respect for historical events beyond our control, and a desire to leave behind for all current and future generations a touchstone by which to understand life and conduct ourselves as the temporary caretakers that we are.

There is much more to come

For most, it all starts with money or the lack thereof.  This pandemic has created a cash flow nightmare for individuals, business, local government as well as State and Federal government.  There is no nation that is not affected by the reduction or complete disappearance of cash flowing from hand to hand.  Economies have been torched.

What is yet to occur are loan defaults by individuals and business.  Yes the US Government is sending free money to us all in the form of checks and forgivable loans.  Yes the Federal Reserve has assured business and the stock market that it has our backs with low interest rates and Quantitative Easing part 3, or is it now part 4?  This liquidity however will not produce economic growth as the money is a stop gap to keep citizens and business alive but barely breathing on their own.  What happens when the Kool Aid runs out in a few months?  Jobs are likely not coming back.  The rush of technological change in business operations is a Tsunami not likely to reverse.

Where is the cash flow?  When will it flow again?

Are banks going to forgive car loans, business loans, and home mortgage loans?  The cascade of domino’s here is monumental if millions lose their homes, and banks and other lenders are now loaded with bad debts that can never be paid.

Employment, education, and brick and mortar stores are all on life support right now.  Many will go the way of COVID-19 patients on ventilators and will not survive.  Those that do may not recover completely.  Technology will continue to affect the way people live, work, and shop.  New jobs will have to be created much as they were 100 years ago when blacksmiths gave way to auto workers.  This will take time and more importantly, training from old skills to new.  Human beings despise change and fight it.  Many will not take well to these developments.  The only viable alternative to a job is starting a business.  You can move from chair to chair but the music is the same.

Are You Waiting For the Return to Normal?

There will always be a new normal around every corner.  I have yet find a previous past around any corner.  Yet, people are habitually reluctant to change, and will not move forward with earnest.  They will not search to find that new normal because their mind is preoccupied with the return of the normal they understand, never accepting its demise.  Survival requires acceptance, creativity, and boldness.  Life is not for the wimpy.  With tragedy comes opportunity, and there is plenty of it…always.  The missing ingredient lies within.

What the last great generation went through in 1920 was much worse than this.  Yet, they and the world survived.  They and the world prospered beyond belief.  The same will happen again and again.  Let us help you to open a dialogue with your future.

Joseph Campbell once said:

“The world is perfect.  It’s a mess.  It has always been a mess.  We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”