Generation self?

Emily poi 1

I read a really depressing piece in the Guardian not long ago. Here is an extract;

Has Britain raised a new “heartless” generation of children of Thatcher – and, arguably, of Tony Blair? Does this mark the slow death of solidarity? Or has the received wisdom on the imagined journey through life, from hot-headed radical to self-satisfied reactionary, never been all that true?

Guardian/ICM poll is only the latest piece of evidence suggesting that the left’s defining value of solidarity is in considerably shorter supply among the young than the old. A rising generation that finds college expensive, work hard to come by and buying a home an impossible dream is responding to its plight, not by imagining any collective fightback, but by plotting individual escape.

The desolate atomisation of what we might dub “generation self” – today’s twentysomethings – poses a profound challenge for the left over the distant horizon. But it is not a challenge that shows up yet in the headline figures for voting intention, where pensioners remain considerably more conservative and everyone else’s propensity to put a cross in the Tory box remains much of a muchness. Rather, the staunch individualism of the young emerges when they are probed about deeper attitudes. This even manifests in areas like thewelfare state, despite young people being far more likely than their older compatriots to be unemployed.

A full 48% of 18- 24-year-olds, and 46% of 25- 34-year-olds disagreed with a statement suggesting that most unemployed people receiving benefits were “for the most part unlucky rather than lazy” – almost twice as many as in the over-65s group, where only 25% disagreed with the statement.

That gulf on welfare between the age gaps is a strong one: even despite the relatively small samples of each age group, the gap was easily big enough to be statistically significant.

Attitudes on a few other issues also showed a split, albeit not quite so stark: 24% of 18- 24-year-olds disagreed that it’s important to get to know your neighbours, versus just 11% of over-65s. Younger people were also more likely to disagree that they were proud to be British, although an overwhelming majority at all age groups express patriotism.

All this taps into a very familiar story- of how we are letting loose a generation who are disconnected, self absorbed, individualised to the point of atomisation and view everything as commodities to be consumed.

Except…

I have a daughter who is 17, and pretty much plugged into the mainstream- so much so that she calls me an aging hipster for my refusal to conform.

Now perhaps the child of a social worker and a community worker was always going to be gifted with an out sized social conscience but Emily is passionate about social justice, she loves nothing better than to celebrate a friends birthday or to arrange a gathering.

I think each generation has a crisis of confidence in the next one. Perhaps this is ours.

That is not to say that each generation does not need to find it’s own soul. Usually it seems to be found in adversity or mobilised by the eruption of a totemic issue. Mine was cast by the destruction of industry and the miners strike- and we had a name for our pain- Margaret Thatcher.  What is there today?

Well, there are people like Emily.

I might call them (but she would not necessarily use the same language) ‘Agents of the Kingdom of God’. A residue of grace in the middle of us.

How to change the world…

Young people ought to want to change the world, so that they can remind the rest of us that we used to want to as well.

So rise up, generation coming- tear down walls and stand in front of tanks.

Saw this today from the minimergent;

The first step – especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money – the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.

Chuck Palahniuk

Carrie’s coffee house on the news!

Michaela just sent me  a link to this clip-

I am not sure how old this is, but not for the first time- well done Mike and Alison, and may your project continue to be a source of grace to the young people who use it.

The story of this coffee house is an inspirational one- particularly at a time when some of us are asking questions about our own young people in Dunoon- amidst all the usual peer pressures and dangers.

Alison is a Dunoon girl, who met an American sailor who was then based in the Holy Loch. They married and went to live in in the USA, where they brought up two girls. Tragically, their oldest, Carrie, was killed in a car crash, but this terrible event became the catalyst for the Mike and Alison to start a youth coffee house in Carrie’s name- to provide a safe place for young people to hang out.

They were motivated by their grief, but also by great love and faith. And what they have achieved is special.

Perhaps it is time to start a franchise.

But then again- I suspect that most of the success of this project rests on the character that Mike and Alison bring- and that is hard to find.

Winter calls us to fireside…

It is a cold night.

It feels as though winter is with us now- the trees are almost bare apart from a few rattly dry leaves. Frost is on the windows of the car, and the sky has a cold clarity that brings out the wonder in me.

Not that I linger long before the expanse of it- rather I shiver and feel the beckoning call of the fireside.

Tonight our housegroup met- we watched the second of the recent ‘Big Silence‘ series.

As ever there was much laughter first though- my favourite story tonight was from Pauline, who described taking her grand kids on the train into Glasgow, and being uncomfortable as they were sitting next to some loud sweary young people.

“It was great last night” shouted one. “We got pissed and talked about good stuff like drink and sex and zombies!”

Drink and sex- fair enough.

But zombies?