The parents of baby boomers, born around WWI, living through the Great Depression and fighting in WWII had many reasons to be fearful, but didn’t give into it. Still, their fears managed to help them keep a lid on runaway impulsivity and giving into their baser instincts. And their leaders (FDR, Truman) managed to keep those fears from turning into panic.
Other than the “fallout shelter” paranoia in the 1950’s and the Cuban missile crisis in the early sixties and worries about getting drafted in the middle late sixties, baby boomers have not had to live in or with the same fear as their parents. As a result, baby boomers’ baser instincts around sex, rampant materialism and greed have ridden roughshod over civility and civic mindedness, increased and maintained a high rate of divorce, and spawned a generation of X’ers, Y’ers, and Millennials that are much more about “me” than “we.”
Interestingly as “me-minded” as the Millennials may be about not wanting to be told (by boomers) what to think or do, they do subscribe more to a Google-mindedness vs. a GE mindedness. The GE of old represents a “command and control/hub and spoke” mindset which was a carry over from the parents of the baby boomers and to a certain extent the boomers themselves. In times of fear, the masses look to a central figure to take charge, set a direction and reassure in order to stave off panic (i.e. FDR in WWII and George W. Bush immediately post 9/11).
Google represents an open source approach to the world. The Internet has created a “flat world” where we see our enemies are more like us –with similar fears of being controlled and similar desires to love and care for their children –than they are an evil empire. The more we see others and they see us and the more we see that there is little to fear (scattered groups of terrorists and global economics notwithstanding) on the scale of WWI, the Depression, and WWII, the more an open source mindset is prevailing over a command and control one.
What we are seeing in the current political races of Obama vs. Clinton and McCain is an evolution from that command and control to an open source mindset. Clinton professing to be the candidate who is “ready on day one” (when she takes office) vs. Obama saying “Yes we can” is reflective of this shift.
Let’s hope that “we” mindedness is an idea whose time has come.
At the very least it could do no worse than the “me” mindedness that has created so many of the troubles in the world.
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