“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
Forbes Magazine recently published the article by contributor T. Scott Gross called Millennials Need a “Think” Button in which he praises his 14-year-old daughter, nicknamed “The Princess”, for being “strong, and independent” and not thoughtlessly following morals, but thinking through ethical questions.
I’m not sure this praise for ethical superiority is deserved. I also don’t think Millennials are neccessarily without morals. I think a better explanation for the “post-morality” of Millennials is that the moral code is still in the making. I’m a Millennial as well, and twice the age of his daughter at the age of 28 (does that make me a Queen?) so we’re still pretty young. Millennials have grown up in an era where old moral codes have been reassessed, or thrown out entirely. That doesn’t mean that new morals will not form. In fact, rebuilding institutions, and moral codes is a Civic Generation trait.
THE LORAX & GREATEST GENERATION
Dr. Suess brilliantly captures the pitfalls of the last Civic Generation (the GI Generation) in The Lorax. The story shows the downfall of the optimistically arrogant Once-ler. His ethic: the more you produce the better. The GI Generation saw the poverty and starvation of the Great Depression Era, which reinforced the value of prosperity, and material abundance.
The Lorax, who was “shortish and oldish and brownish and mossy … with a voice that was sharpish and bossy”, comes along and pours out his seemingly moralistic warnings to the Once-ler. Blinded by his own arrogant optimism, the Once-ler’s “Think Button” repeated the same logic: The more the better. “I’m doing no harm,” he tells the Lorax.
The Once-ler’s “Think Button” informed by his “Ethics Button” (and of course blinded by greed) resulted in devastating the landscape. The moralistic preaching of the Lorax did no good.
Millennials are the deciders of all things new. We are the the powerhouse of the next few decades. This is heady business that is incredibly exciting. I think Millennials will be responsible for a lot great things, but with such great responsibility we’re bound to make mistakes. The problem is that, if history repeats itself, we will be blind to them. I don’t have a solution for this– I just think that a father praising his very young Millennial daughter for her untested “Think Button” is nice, but premature.
What will the strong warnings from the Lorax be for Millennials? Historically, Civic Generations give birth to a highly-moralistic batch of Idealists. I guess we will leave the voice of the Lorax to our children. Oh, joy– I can hear the cries of indignation already.
Any guesses on Millennial blind spots?