In a recent meeting with a few of my work colleagues I was struck by how differently we each see issues and problems. I am not talking about different personality views, but a general worldview that appears to be defined by the generation cohort we belong to.
As one of the younger people at my office, I belong to the Baby Bust / Generation X cohort. which is in contrast with most of my colleagues who are in their mid to late 50s and are part of the Baby Boom.
It has been my experience that Baby Boomers are generally a positive group who believe that the world is always getting better. In contrast, I am pretty cynical about the future, particularly the Health Care industry I work in where the future challenges are being solved with more bureaucracy and institutional thinking. While I see us being faced with a very negative future, my older colleagues see lots of strengths. Who is right? I don’t know, since the correct answer depends on the question being asked. A big part of my perspective is my fiscal conservatism which which asks, “How are we going to pay for all of this?”
What I do worry about is that the Baby Boom in their enthusiasm, rose-colored view of the world, and breaking of social rules will leave the younger generations with a huge financial and social headache. I don’t see them as a group asking any of the hard questions, nor even caring how things are being run. This is demonstrated in Europe’s debt crisis with Greece not being able to afford its government programs. I am worried that this is what we will face in the future, especially as the Baby Boomers retire and begin drawing on government programs yet contribute less to the tax coffers. The problem is that the Baby Boomers are spending the money now, and it won’t really be there for them (or the following generations) when they need it.
What is interesting is that this all seems to be part of a natural cycle expressed by an interesting website I stumbled upon. The website combines mythology and generation gap issues into a thoroughly researched perspective called the Lifecourse Insight. Check it out.