Occasionally a book comes along under the radar and eases into publication with little fanfare, even though it has the potential to take an entire nation from good to great.
In writing Generation We, Eric Greenberg acknowledged that the Millennial Youth, those born between 1978 and 2000, are the next generation. They are being left with “a world that may be headed down a catastrophic path, unless we start making smarter choices — and soon. You don’t have to look hard to find the bad news,” Greenberg writes. “It’s everywhere —on the TV networks and the cable channels, on the radio talk shows, in our local newspapers, in every magazine, and all over the internet.”
Greenberg’s Generation We isn’t revolutionary, nor is it radical. In fact, it takes some of the same concepts that Jim Collins wrote for businesses in Good to Great more than a dozen years ago. It applies them to a social paradigm designed to correct multiple difficulties, such as environmental problems, health concerns, a failing education system, economic concerns, creeping totalitarianism and a world ravaged by war.
The message in Generation We is loaded with practical advice, giving it an air of legitimacy, for serious-minded folks who want to do something tangible and realistic to change not only how Americans treat each other, but also how we as a nation interact with the rest of the world.
“I came to understand that we are all connected, as a species and as a planet,” Greenberg writes. “We are all related, genetically proven to be descendants of a single ancestral woman who lived in Africa some 140,000 years ago.”
While Good to Great strives to motivate its readers to “combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship,” and “to think differently about the role of technology,” Greenberg sharpens Collins’ idea by recognizing the importance that Generation We is always connected and wielding technology to change the world.”
“Americans must use the power of technology for a global spread of knowledge and to bring environmental awareness with holistic thinking to solve many of these problems,” Greenberg writes.
“I came to understand that we are all
connected, as a species and as a planet”
Instilled into Generation We is an inspiring hopefulness as Greenberg leaves readers with confidence that “Millennials represent a brand-new America, transformed by demographic and cultural trends. American Millennials share a remarkable number of personal and attitudinal traits regardless of geographic, gender, religious, and ethnic differences.” They “are smart and tech-driven, optimistic, socially responsible and active, innovatively minded, highly politically engaged, center-left, open-minded and tolerant, pro-environment, globally connected, and believe that government can do well.”
Even though Generation We paints a rosy picture, Greenberg recognizes cynicism.
“Many of those reading these pages are already immersed in doubt and despair,” Greenberg writes.
“They’re ready to dismiss the vision we’re trying to evoke by calling it ‘naïve, unrealistic, or utopian.’ They’re eager to deny the potential for greatness contained in Generation We and to condemn today’s youth to living out their lives in the same quagmire of quiet desperation their parents have experienced. The emergence of Generation We as a powerful voting bloc supporting progressive causes and candidates isn’t happening by accident or purely as a result of broad social trends. It is also being spurred by a generation of activists, mostly themselves of millennial age, who are building political organizations to educate, empower, and mobilize young people over the long term. Generation We uses film to spur international activism, social entrepreneurship to make homes affordable, collaborating to create the automobile of the future, and to shake up politics.”
Greenberg would have been remiss if he did not recognize what is happening inside America’s prisons.
“Generation We will be the ones to transform our prisons out of a system in which 2.3 million Americans — more than one in 100, many of them with nonviolent offenses, such as drug abuse, for which therapeutic and remedial care would be far more effective and humane. Racial disparities are enormous: If you’re a Hispanic male, your chance of being in prison is 2.2 times greater than of a white male, and if you’re a black male, your chance is almost six times as great.”
Bottom line, Greenberg says: “Vote — and insist that everyone gets the same right to vote. Hold our leaders accountable. Get educated. Connect the dots. Exercise your clout. Make your message visible, audible, and impossible to ignore. Practice consumer power. Push for change in your own sphere of influence. Get organized.”
Juan’s Book Review