Recently, a good friend and fellow liberal told of a discussion with his grandson about names of generations, such as “millennial.”
My friend asked his politically precocious grandson what his generation called itself. Without skipping a beat, the boy said “Doom.”
Climate change is hitting home every day with unusual weather conditions such as unseasonable temperatures, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and polar bears negotiating broken slabs of ice in a danse macabre, foretelling not only the extinction of numerous species of flora and fauna right now but the potential death of all mankind if global warming is allowed to continue.
There is more to the doom-is-nigh argument:
There is Venezuela.
There is Ohio State, the latest entry in the varsity child molestation league.
And speaking of varsity, we have parents bribing their children’s ways in to college.
Government support for health care is threatened by the likes of multi-millionaire characters such as Mitch McConnell, who’ve sold the base on the non-threat of socialism.
Corruption flows torrent-like from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill to Central Avenue in Clayton, where a spreading Stenger-government cancer stands as a daily reminder of the state of greed-driven American politics, to Jefferson City, where the Greitens stench haunts government with a special odiferousness.
Also in Jeff City, and elsewhere, the assault continues on American women and their right to choose.
My friend told me about the Doom generation an hour or two following the commencement address of philanthropist, publisher, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to the class of 2019 at my school, Washington University in St. Louis.
Bloomberg’s speech was unique in its candor, not one proclaimed in all-will-be-well platitudes. The graduates, their families, my colleagues on the faculty, and the trustees and administrators rose in near unison when the engaged statesman’s speechmaking was done.
I’m going to quote liberally from Mr. Bloomberg’s speech because it provides us – Doomsters and Millennials and young and old alike – plenty to hope for and to work for. Its powerful talk bristled not with “great again” deception or passive palliative but the charge to Do Something – and to do something the minute commencement was done.
He spoke of realities that run the full range of the scientific and degrading conditions – from “climate change, to gun violence, to failing schools, to the opioid epidemic, and on campuses, from the frightening trend toward racism, sexism, hatred, anti-Semitism, and intolerance of unpopular views and opinions.”
Encouraging words were few and far between; the message was not about endless conversation but about persistence and action, their foundations being the revival of civilized dialogue as a means to radical change and the re-establishment of attitudes and actions that truly will make America great again.
“To have any hope of overcoming these challenges, we have to start by reclaiming our civic dialogue from those who are debasing and degrading it – and preventing us from getting things done.
“All of you can help do that – no matter what your politics are and no matter what line of work you pursue later on. Maybe your passion is science or the environment. Or the arts or education. Or medicine or health care. Or business. There is not a single issue that isn't affected by political debates. And there is not a single issue that isn't threatened by the breakdown in our civic discourse.
“So even if you hate politics – and there are a lot of reasons to hate politics these days – you will have to engage in political dialogue, if only to survive Thanksgiving dinner with your crazy uncle. And you will have to judge the arguments made by candidates if you are going to vote intelligently.”
One might add, “Live intelligently and generously and make way for sacrifices.” Because if the grandson of my friend and his smart young men and women confederates embrace Doom and add to their number the disaffected and disillusioned, the moniker will have a toxic reality, enough to sink our ever-more fragile republic.
The full text of Michael Bloomberg’s speech is available here.