In an earlier post I mentioned the growing gap between generations. Our societies being divided over their perception of the future. Age groups becoming more exclusive than ever.
Younger people struggling to get their heads around an over complicated system where success is closely related to background, family, relationships and money. Millions of people building up frustration year after year. This group receives criticism, has its development blocked and is never involved in decision-making.
Everyday walking the streets of London I realise how similar we all are. We are united by our inability to survive, we own nothing and we are treated as if we were high-risk.
A generation portrayed as financially reckless that hardly affords city rents. That sentence alone is like a blow in the face. A high majority can barely make it through the month, but makes financially reckless decisions? You need money to make reckless decisions. Perhaps reckless refers to not having anything. It is like hunger games but without a game, just hunger.
What next? Youngsters guilty for the financial crisis?
I guess so, we are blamed for almost everything that is wrong in our society. Teenage pregnancy, reliance of the social system, fall of high-street shops, fall of non-sustainable businesses, fall of the EUROZONE, fall of productivity and efficiency in public services, lack of housing, immigration etc.
I am confident we can easily add to this endless list the reckless decisions taken by a bunch of people that have moved from boarding schools to university campuses and to investment banks without living a whole year in the real world.
Being a young adult in the UK in these times is a form of punishment. You are always scrutinised, standardised, tested to the point that you are destined to fail. You end up working long hours for a minimum salary. There are no bonuses for this generation or company cars. You have to make your own damn way to work and to your client’s business, and you better not waste your company’s time in the process.
If you were wondering where the young people of London are, well open your eyes early in the morning on your way to work. They are selling you coffee and cigarettes, and your lunch is probably made by one. Your newspaper is sold or distributed by them. In your office your administrative staff most probably are young adults, the people nobody cares for and everyone complains about. After work they serve you food, tidy the store shelves, clean your office and deliver your sad take-away. Young people are usually in front of Liverpool Street Station fundraising for charities.
That is where younger generations end up, this is after college and university. These wonderful people that nobody appreciates are smart, hardworking, struggle everyday with failure and have more doors closing in their faces than a door maker.
Every few months I attend career fairs and look at the stands, all the PR officers communicate with the same words, same sort of pictures, even their videos are similar. Young, development and exceptional are popular words. I sometimes fall for it. However I like looking at the numbers and my suspicion gets confirmed.
If they gave you the real checklist you would feel helpless, destined to fail and frankly you would not even bother. Most companies are looking for robots, aliens or 40 + people to do the job for less money. Development is just a word they throw in because they have to.
There you go, we have a punished younger generations to a future of frustration. In 20 years we will blame the same people for under-performing and for everything that is wrong in our society. These people will never retire and will work until they die, but we are not putting the message on every building because they might just do something about it.
This group has some exceptions and if you find one consider yourself lucky. It will feel as if you have found a pet unicorn.
Older generations have a similar struggle: Survival. Ensuring that their last days on this planet are not left in the hands of destiny. Their frustration is mainly due to time left. A consistent part of society deciding as if they were hooked to a detonator. The present and immediate future prevails.
These wonderful people that come at odds with new technology, new ways of working and the increasingly cosmopolitan society, are the decision makers of our times.
I realise that democracy should ensure all generations have a say, but the reality is that most assets are held by older generations. This applies to executive positions and in general power.
Of course, there are exceptions. The financial bust bubble and reckless decisions destroyed some people’s trust-pension-investment funds. Some other people have lived all their lives in modesty or had their life journey curved by unfortunate events.
In this group we have inspiring people that teach us in colleges and universities, help us understand the world and how to change it. There are so many great people in this group. I am grateful for being able to learn from their experiences, read their books and look up to them.
Then we have decision-maker, those that sit on a pedestal above society and think they know it all. Actually some of them act as if they can pull from their pockets the next innovative idea.
These people take decisions for the younger generation without even consulting. They virtually decide everyone’s destiny. Take financing of education. It is clear that young adults will be deferred. Who wants to start their lives with 40K + debt? Then we have financing of first-time buyers. It is all about hoop jumping. Missed one and you are out.
I am not even going to discuss about the wish of having a family one day. In this climate young families are definitely encouraged not to have children. If you do, make sure you get two or three jobs. The state will cut its support more and more until there will be nothing. Actually I am waiting for them to say that there is not point having it. 80 years ago our society was ok without a welfare system. The fix it all solution to deter human activity foreign or local.
In this group we have the nationalists and the ones that start every discussion with ’30 years ago it was …’. The truth is nothing is the same, things change every single day. It is in our DNA to develop, challenge and discover. We cannot stop the process just because at some point it becomes inconvenient. Plus we have to be realistic about our ability to control this phenomenon.
My generation will go through the same shock in 50 years’ time. That is not to say that change is not good. I can only hope that we will manage to develop sustainable communities, green cities and a way to rest our cultural differences.
It is easy to see why we have a system destined to fail, there is no communication between these two groups, one blames another for the same failures, the solutions we have only address part of our problems. Add to this technology and a change in culture and you have disaster.
*Painting: Sunflowers by Candice Bohannon Reyes