The following article appeared in the Dallas Morning News May 2, 1999, and was written by Marcey Musgrave, a junior at Texas A & M University.
I am a member of the upcoming generation—the one after Generation X that has yet to be given a name. So far, it appears that most people are rallying behind the idea of calling us Generation Next. I believe I know why.
The older generations are hoping we will mindlessly assume our place as the “next” in line. That way, they won’t have to explain why my generation has had to experience so much pain and heartache.
“What heartache?” you ask. “Don’t you know you have grown up in a time of great prosperity?” Yeah, we know that. Believe me, it has been drilled into our heads since birth. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt I speak of can’t be compensated for with money. You have tried for years to buy us happiness, but it is only temporary. Money isn’t the answer, and it is time for people to begin admitting their guilt for failing my generation.
I will admit that I wasn’t planning to write this. I was going to tuck it away in some corner of my mind and fall victim to your whole “next” mentality. But after the massacre in Littleton, CO, I realize that as a member of this generation that kills without remorse, I had a duty to challenge all of my elders to explain why they have allowed things to become so bad.
Let me tell you this: These questions don’t represent only me but a whole generation that is struggling to grow up and make sense of this world.
We all have questions—we all want explanations. People may label us Generation Next, but we are more appropriately Generation “Why?”
“Why did most of you lie when you made the vow of ‘til death do us part’?”
“Why do you fool yourselves into believing that divorce really is better for the kids in the long run?”
“Why do so many of you divorced parents spend more time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend than with your own children?”
“Why did you ever fall victim to the notion that kids are just as well off being raised by a complete stranger at a day care center than by their own mother or father?”
“Why do you look down on parents who decide to quit work and stay home to raise their children?”
“Why does the television do the most talking at family meals?”
“Why is work more important than your own family?”
“Why is money regarded as more important than relationships?”
“Why is ‘quality time’ generally no longer than a five to ten minute conversation each day?”
“Why do you try to make up for the lack of time you spend with us by giving us more and more material objects that we really don’t need?”
“Why does your work (in the form of a cell phone, laptop computer, etc.), always come with us on vacations?”
“Why have you neglected to teach us values and morals?”
“Why haven’t you lived moral lives that we could model our own after?”
“Why isn’t religion one of the most important words in our household?”
“Why do you play God when it comes to abortion?”
“Why don’t you have enough faith in us to teach us abstinence rather than safe sex?”
“Why do you allow us to watch violent movies but expect us to maintain some type of childlike innocence?”
“Why do you allow us to spend unlimited amounts of time on the Internet but still are shocked about our knowledge of how to build bombs?”
“Why are you so afraid to tell us ‘no’ sometimes?”
“Why is it so hard for you to realize that school shootings and other violent juvenile behavior result from a lack of your attention more than anything else?”
Call us Generation Next if you want to but I think you will be surprised at how we will fail to fit into your neat little category.
These questions should, and will, be asked of the generations that have failed us. You have pursued your selfish desires for years but now is the time to reap what you have sown. Some rude awakenings like the Littleton massacre have occurred and probably will continue until you can begin to answer our questions and make the drastic changes to put us, your kids, first.
Time is running out, for in just a few short years we will be grown, and it will be too late. You might not think we are worth it, but I can guarantee you that Littleton will look like a drop in the bucket compared to what might occur when a neglected Generation “Why?” comes to power.
This article appeared in the Fall 1999 issue of Eternal Perspectives