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OP-ED: A Generation Z and Elders Alliance for an American Renaissance

By Hector E. Garcia

The United States Senate was considered in the early 1990s the greatest deliberative body on earth. Today, the once masterful legislative process of reasoning and discussion in the Senate along with the process and norms of the rest of the U.S. government are semi-paralyzed and incapable of effectively addressing the COVID pandemic, the effects of global climate change, the deterioration of a strong economy and the need for immigration reform to revitalize that economic downturn. Not only the American government but also a portion of the media and the people have dedicated themselves to exchanging blame instead of communicating and building alliances to address these dilemmas, which grow more ominous by the day.

There might be light at the end of the tunnel with a new administration and newly developed vaccines. Unfortunately, these efforts are not being supported by nor coordinated with the current administration. Extreme divisions, enmity and a sense of helplessness have evolved from groupthink, confirmation bias and the mindset of “winning-is-the-only-thing,” which pervade the American socioeconomic and political body.

But, at its margins, are two groups who might lead American society out of the tangled web woven over the past few decades. The members of Generation Z and retired elders are less subject to vested interests than the rest of American voting citizens. They are free to see more objectively and broadly, via heart and mind, the perils beyond the cliff’s edge to which society is rushing. Elders prioritize their legacy to the next generations and the dire consequences their own grandchildren will experience. Gen Zs visualize with despair the future world in which they are being led to exist.

These two unlikely political allies are discovering that they are not helpless. Instead, they are identifying complementary resources to be harnessed in pursuit of a more auspicious future. Gen Zs have the physical energy, emotional intensity, and skills to utilize modern technology. Elders have the, now scarce, wisdom and knowledge of history along with a lifetime of experience in how the exceptional process of the American experiment really works. Some of them are members of the greatest American generation, which successfully overcame and matured from the Great Depression and World War II. The combination of these resources are unique in today’s society and their complementarity can generate the synergies required to pull the country out of its downward spiral.

Concrete samples of this developing bi-generational alliance have been cropping up here and in other nations. One such Elder-Gen Z team was recently interviewed on television show Amanpour & Co. Former Senator Harry Reid and the young Californian activist Alexandria Villasenor have joined their efforts to protect the environment with “Fridays for Future Movement.” A transcript of their interview can be accessed through the following link: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2009/22/ampr.01.html

The Elders and Gen Zs clarity of vision, their thinking and acting in the context of future generations and other mentioned resources empower them to perceive human differences as building blocks in a grand project of renewal. This project could include a specialized think tank and laboratory, conceptual bridges and roads to integrate the multitude of resources found among the current and new members of the United States towards an American Renaissance. Human beings are the greatest asset in society and the key towards improving civilization; many seem to have forgotten this in spite of the fact that the U.S. Constitution clearly points to “We the People” as the pivotal agent of self-government.

These aspirational projections of what the Elders-Gen Z alliance can produce are contingent on two factors. One is that the struggle for truth be reinstated as the guiding priority for perfecting the Union, for science, the economy and the humanities in order to ground their work on reality instead of fear, deception and wishful thinking. The other is that the members of this alliance pledge to fulfill their patriotic responsibilities to the self-government bequeathed to us by the Founders in truth, wisdom and courage, as exemplified by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and many other servant-leaders.

Hector E. Garcia, is a Mexican immigrant, American citizen, and published author of the higher-ed textbook Clash or Complement of Cultures? Peace & Productivity in the New Global Reality.