In today’s New York Times, Frank Bruni offered an apology to millennials. He is sorry that his generation is ruining the Earth through climate change and bankrupting the country by running up the debt. He bemoans the fact that millennials (including myself) will experience Miami disappear under rising sea levels and crushing levels of debt.
With all due respect Mr. Bruni, I don’t want to hear it.
1) You’re apocalyptic vision of the future is almost guaranteed to not materialize. Miami disappearing? No money to spend on anything other than entitlements for senior citizens? Give me a break. Global warming alarmists (those who see climate change as a religion rather than a science) have been predicting the end of the word for years now and our budget problems can be solved with fairly moderate spending restraint. Bruni’s pessimism is one of the reasons I am not liberal. I can’t imagine living life beliving civilization is on a constant downward trend, and if there is one thing liberalism is good at, it is acting like everything in the world (capitalism, guns, religion) is helplessly evil and there is no hope for a better tomorrow. John Stossel is good at debunking this “pessimism porn” that often dominates the media.
2) I have to admit that you are right about a lot of things, mainly the fact that you’re generation screwed up an awful lot. Much of the bad comes from your insistence on engineering a “better” world using big government (massive national debt from spending too much, pushing college costs up with bad student loan programs). But you also did some good. You elected Reagan, who put the country on a steady rightward path (even during Clinton’s years) until Obama came along.
3) Even if we ignore facts and believe your apocalyptic predictions, I don’t think Millennials need your sympathy. If the world is truly burning, let us be the ones to extinguish the flames. A quick look at history shows that previous generations rose up to challenges much greater than the ones we face today (I know many believe climate change is the biggest threat in the history of the world, including WW2, but it just isn’t). Seeing as the 70th anniversary of D-Day just passed and I am reading The Grapes of Wrath, the Greatest Generation is a good example of people who had it much worse than we do, yet prevailed. I think of my own grandfather, who was so poor that the depression hardly impacted his life (he was poor before, and poor after). Then during what could have been the best years of his life, he (and his brothers) were drafted into the service. For almost five years my grandfather served his country. Even after invading Germany with General Patton, he suffered through nightmares, a hatred of loud noises, and almost became an alcoholic trying to cope with what he had seen.
He, of course, is just one example of literally millions from his time who endured a level of adversity largely non-existent in today’s world. Yes, poverty and war still exist, but in a different degree. The story of the Joad’s chronicled by Steinbeck is no longer common and as terrible as Iraq and Afghanistan were, thankfully they did not require millions of draftees and hundreds of thousands dead.
So in conclusion, Millennials don’t need your pessimism or your apologies Frank Bruni. We will simply rise to the challenges set before us, just as our fathers and grandfathers before us did.