Ever since President Obama ran and won on the slogans of “hope” and “change,” I have been pondering the new hopefulness in America, and its already evident erosion in the popular polls. Hope is, apparently, much like the desert sands, looming high as dunes, only to shift and is appear in the changing winds each season.
The expectations of each generation are largely defined by the circumstances of childhood according to the socio and psycho theorists, and so the concept of hope differs over generational time.
My generation was largely hopeless and thereby freer than any before or since. The atomic bomb and the resulting over reaction to the threat it posed convinced us that the world would, some fine day, disappear in a blinding white flash, followed by mass traffic jams of survivors and the decline of civilization to some new stone age. With that as a background vision of limited future, we became self-indulgent, risk taking narcissists dedicated to the “now” of everything in a newly existential world.
Our parents (the so-called greatest generation) by contrast, had suffered the economic crisis of the thirties and their hope was for a return of jobs and wages to allow the American dream to flower once again.
They remembered the Gilded Age and what had been lost in the Great Depression, and after winning a war they hoped to return home to peace and comfort. Security was their theme, including a dedication to military affairs that both comforted the fearful and boosted the economy by war production.
The result has been a series of minor wars overseas to keep the military industrial complex fat and Americans generally frightened of the Communist Menace internationally, and its adherents within the labor and civil rights movements.
The current crop of graduating youth, pierced, tattooed and miseducated to a degree unimaginable in prior eras, face a future in which jobs are a shrinking segment of the economic base and industrial job skills are being made obsolete by robotic manufacturing, here and abroad. They must compete in a world labor market that is inflated with two-dollar-a-day, third-world workers both overseas and at home as hordes of economic refugees breaching our borders. With a skill set that spans the gamut from motorcycle racing and hacky sac, to skate board acrobatics, their idea of hope seems to be long on achieving stardom and remarkably short on longterm planning.
With hope fading, change is in the wind and the next generation had better learn to sail.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.