What is your age group called?
I’m from what is called the Silent Generation but it seems I can’t keep quiet. My commitment now is to an entirely different generation. They are called the Millenials. Once upon a time I was of that age and the cadre I traveled with was not so silent. So let me speak in behalf of the Millenials.
A common viewpoint is that age brings wisdom. Seriously? I am not impressed by the evidence to support that contention. Experience, perhaps. Wisdom. Not so much.
The Wisdom at Awakening
I was to learn about wisdom. When I was hired for my first job after I got my Ph.D. at Duke I went to Baltimore in 1967. The community mental health movement sounded interesting and groundbreaking. Using a public health model, we were to bring mental health services to all the people of our country. Nice try!
Then came the awakening I could never have expected. To be blunt, effective leadership was lacking. Or at least their concept of leadership was a foreign language to the twenty somethings on the line of delivery. We huddled as we developed services and were not impressed by the seniors. Our particular unit was headed by a psychiatrist (of course!) and he was fairly clueless in our estimate.
Dedicated to a Mission
The people who had hired us made a significant error. They hired young people who loved new ventures. We were dedicated and could think. Bad. Bad!
Now granted, many of us were finding our way into a new field of endeavor. They called it mental health but it was being done differently. Or at least we wanted to do it differently. We were a diverse lot. Many of us banded together while some others chose different courses. One of the early radicals later became a dedicated creature of the establishment. One other fellow was fired. (An appropriate term because he became a radical who engaged in arson.)
Frequently the young staff went off the radar and developed new slants and we really, really got into the community. We even managed to engineer the hiring of people from the community we served so they could work with us.
Dedication Versus a Form of Venality
What’s the bottom line? We developed a very effective system for intervention, responded to the needs of these impoverished people and learned effective means of passive aggressing the establishment rather than engaging in confrontation so that we could deliver truly effective services.
The powers that were wanted not be disturbed, assumed obedience by their lesser colleagues, lived for status, wanted continuity of the established system, reveled in the status afforded by a new type of grant and wished unfettered use of the money. We wanted an effective mission.
In the end the establishment won. Yes, some of the hires from the community actually retired form the jobs which was an enduring victory of sorts. But, in the end, the services were sabotaged.
Bonding With and Empowering the Millenials
What did we learn? A great deal. We learned how to deliver truly effective services to an impoverished community and allied ourselves with them. And one of the things I learned is that we need to listen to and engage the young people now called the Millenials. Our current young adults have been dismissed as not interested in what needs to be done politically and otherwise. My brushes with them suggest something different. Look at who was standing in line in Wisconsin to vote. Millennials! And now look at who is fighting for effective gun control!
They are there. Many are quietly angry and frustrated. Only now are they beginning to show up on the streets. We need to recognize them and that this is their future and we old farts need to form a union with them. The coming demographic changes of all sorts are in our favor and we can win this fight. Now we need to band firmly with the Millenials.
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt
Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page
Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt
Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership
Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt