Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Next Social Revolution Will Be Quiet and Invisible

The most rebellious generation in US history was the Founding Fathers. By declaring independence, they revolted against British rule. The second most rebellious generation would be baby boomers. They protested the system and Vietnam War. The next generation to rebel may have a greater social impact than the Founding Fathers or baby boomers. That generation would be
the Millennials.

While our Founding Fathers reaped the benefits of their rebellion, free love, narcotics and alcohol derailed the baby boomers’ movement.  In fact, baby boomers eventually assimilated into the system they were against. They now lead government and some of the largest corporations in the world. However, under their leadership, the divorce rate is at an all time high. Along with the increased divorce rate, they have laid off record numbers of employees from corporate America. Furthermore, they are the most disengaged in today’s workforce.

Between divorce and layoffs, society appears to be experiencing dysfunction at many levels. Many who find it difficult to survive in today’s environment are incarcerated in the profitable prison system. At the same time, many of those who avoid prison find themselves dependent on psychiatric drugs to cope.  

The Millennials, also known as echo boomers, will inherit the current conditions. While echo boomers are at the stage in life where they figure out who they are and what they want to accomplish personally and professionally, they have an opportunity to create a much different fate than their predecessors.

As it stands, because most marriages end in divorce, Millennials have witnessed the rise of the single parent household. One side effect of the broken family is the proliferation of gangs. The gang has become a substitute family, which in turn, increases violence and trafficking. The other crisis to which echo boomers have been exposed is the hard work, loyalty and dedication their parent(s) has demonstrated on their job. Yet, when the economy weakens, they have seen the corporation offered no loyalty in return. Their parent(s) was laid off to protect and increase profits. 

When you examine these phenomena, it may explain why Millennials are being characterized as narcissistic job hoppers. They have not seen the benefits of marriage or job loyalty.

With all that said, there is no reason echo boomers will be different than baby boomers. Eventually, they will have families and be forced to assimilate. Furthermore, most people repeat their childhood. Your ability to cope with life is a reflection of the family/environment you were raised in. This could spell a higher divorce rate and further lay offs. On the other hand, instead of continuing this cycle, they could rebel, disrupt the pattern, create great marriages and place higher value on employees in an organization.  

While it will require a new outlook on life, Millennials have the possibility to disrupt the existing pattern. If the echo boomers wanted to stage the greatest rebellion, they would develop the most essential skills to make marriage work. With that said, in one or two generations, divorce could be eliminated from our social structure. Without divorce, children would be raised in stable households. That alone would result in less stress, a peaceful society and a more productive workforce.

In addition, if echo boomers structured organizations to withstand economic cycles, they would not have to repeat layoffs. As we have seen, layoffs only exacerbate economic downturns and increase the need for more layoffs which puts more stress on married couples. Because we have not discovered a more efficient way to run businesses, does not mean it is not possible. A more effective corporate structure would be analogous to the Wright Brothers. Before they built a machine that could leverage the laws of aerodynamics, flying was impossible. They had to build a structure called an airplane that was able to take advantage of the laws of aerodynamics. The same holds true for the corporation. We will have to discover new organizational structures that make it more expensive to layoff employees than it is to keep them.

If Millennials were to take a stand for having great, workable marriages and building companies that are capable of averting recessions, they would have orchestrated the greatest and quietest rebellion in world history, without ever protesting, fighting or burning cities. If they are able to make it happen, no one would have ever seen it. It would have happened in the comfort of their homes and the efficiency of their offices.

What do you think the first steps should be to make this a reality?     

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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