Generation Z has identified the people obstructing their way, and Gen Z calls that group Boomers. Regardless of age. A Boomer is anyone not taking action to support Gen Z’s agenda. I love that.
I said to my older son, “I’m so proud to be part of Gen X.”
He said, “You shouldn’t be. Your generation did nothing to stop a global disaster.”
Rule 1: Dump self-actualization in favor of selflessness.
I don’t tell him we grew up listening to Give a hoot, don’t pollute. I don’t tell him we took car trips with no seatbelts and rolled down the window to throw out the trash. Instead, I tell him Gen X will be remembered for parenting the generation that saved the planet. “Gen X are the most caring devoted parents in history. We had all the opportunities the baby boomers had, and instead of indulging in those opportunities, we took care of kids.”
But I do use our US History time to talk about how the people who got rich during the Gilded Age left nothing for the next generation. But that generation raised the kids who saved the US from the Great Depression. Similarly, baby boomers left nothing for the next generation. But that generation raised the generation that will save the planet.
Rule 2: Don’t use words when pictures will suffice.
I made a chart for us to talk about at lunchtime. Please try to ignore that someone viciously threw this chart into the garbage when he cleared his plate.
I show him the pattern. If one group has all the resources, the next group has to make something to call their own. The Rockefellers and Carnegies collected all the money. So the Lost Generation had to suffer through WWI and then wrote depressive novels. But the generation that came next redistributed wealth and rights during the ’50s and ’60s. And the same thing will happen now. Generation X had to build the Internet so we’d have jobs—it was like our version of the depressive novel. Generation Z will embark on a great distribution… we just need to wait until they all get out of college.
I draw pictures fast before my kids google a detail to show me I got it wrong.
One son says, “What’s on that kid’s head?”
The other says, “He’s wearing his house on his head because anything not attached to your body the Boomers will take for themselves.”
The boys spend the rest of the day walking around with insane things on their head. Even after underwear, a chair, and three bunches of grapes, they are still laughing.
Rule 3: Find a cause and really care. No co-opting and no dabbling.
Here’s what will happen as Gen Z forces politicians to focus on climate. Baby boomers will announce that if it’s a movement, then they are leading. Millennials will photoshop themselves looking perfect as they travel to climate events at bucket-list locations. Gen X will have an alternative agenda.
My agenda will be public schools. Kids don’t need school to learn, and school doesn’t create social mobility, so we should redirect the education budget to social services for poor families. Do not doubt my conclusion. Mark Zuckerberg just dumped $100 million into the Newark Public schools and confirmed that more money for schools doesn’t help kids in poverty.
On top of that, MIT found that making a dent on poverty requires giving families a job, healthcare, and a savings account. Another group at MIT confirmed decades of research that says kids will learn to read on their own if they don’t live in poverty. So public schools spend billions of dollars teaching kids to read so they get out of poverty when the kids could learn on their own if we gave their parents basic necessities and a savings account. Read that last sentence again. Really.
Rule 4: Push reform like you don’t care who loses.
Gen X could build the Internet because we had so little stake in the status quo. As soon as you start advocating for gradual reform, you’re trying to hold on to what you have, and then you’re part of the problem. Which is why we need to get rid of public school and redistribute that money to the poor.
You might say, “What about this kid or that kid whose family will never get out of poverty in this new plan?” But that kid was never going to benefit from school anyway. And if teachers are capable of showing kids how to succeed outside of school, then surely the teachers are capable of succeeding outside of school themselves; they can all get new jobs. School should be canceled.
I tell my son maybe he should focus on education instead of climate.
He says, “You can’t go to school if your house is underwater.”
I say, “You can’t address climate without addressing inequality.”
He says, “OK, Boomer.”