It’s a little ironic to see former Flower Children being among the chief critics of the current Cupcake generation.
I really can’t remember when I had long hair. In fact, I barely remember when I had hair, but I do remember when I knew everything. I’m not young enough now to know everything. There was no way I could have been completely into the hippy scene; my mom wouldn’t let me. Dad was the major disciplinarian in our home, and I still remember the spankings when I was younger. I’m not talking about “beatings,” but I got more than my share of spankings. Dad would always tell me he was spanking me because he “loved me.” Of the three children, I’m sure I must have been his favorite.
I think it was Joanne Jacobs who may have given this generation of college students the title “Cupcake Generation” when she designated them the “everybody gets a cupcake” group (http://www.joannejacobs.com/2011/11/generation-cupcake-goes-to-college/). Not a very flattering name if you ask me. “Flower Children” was much more poetic. Some of us on faculty who are older remember those days. I think about every 40 years we have a generation that must rebel. It’s kind of like a trans-historical Seasonal Affective Disorder.
So how do we respond? Here are some ideas.
- Be a good listener. I’m always amazed at how listening can go a long way to diminish the heat. It’s hard to put up with primal screams and Trumpted-up PTSD. We have students who received their PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan. That makes sense and deserves our very close attention and gratitude. Losing an election does NOT rise anywhere near that level. I don’t think we have much of a problem here at OKWU with this. I certainly haven’t seen it in my classes. I’ve seen it in other places where I teach. I nearly had to break up a fist fight at another local college class recently. My son called me from Denver the day after the election. He had voted for one of the independent candidates because he was so dismayed with both major parties. He was very nervous about the future. After listening for about an hour, I think things began to calm down. At least, we won’t have to go to Canada to visit him for Christmas. It reminded me of a call I made to my dad when Nixon was elected.
- Don’t feed the flame. Our country has been through much worse. Anybody remember Vietnam? Kent State? Watts? The 1968 Democratic National Convention? Or if you want to go for the worst, how about the Civil War? It really doesn’t do any good to say things like, “I think our great country is at the end.” “Our grandchildren are doomed.” Suppose all those things are true. I don’t think they are, but just suppose for a minute that we are the last generation of free Americans. I’ve seen happy Christians all over the world who live in terrible situations. When there was an Iron Curtain, I’ve worshiped in secret with Christians behind it. In mud “prayer sheds” in the villages of India, I’ve seen some of the happiest people I’ve ever known. Christian citizenship is in a colony of heaven called the Kingdom of God. Our ultimate allegiance is to a higher power. Does that mean we shouldn’t be proud Americans or shouldn’t be in politics? Absolutely not!
- Don’t cave in. We have values in this country and in our churches that are second to none. We don’t have to throw tantrums to combat tantrums. The university presidents who are resigning, or caving into the Cupcakes are doing more harm than good, but let’s remember that 40 years from now it will be the another group of college kids fighting the status quo. They may be called the Snowflakes, the Buttercups, the Boo Boo Bears or whatever. And the Cupcakes will be in our shoes, thinking this is the end of America. By then, they will probably have forgotten about the safe zones, the trigger points, the micro-aggressions, and the primal screams. They’ll be talking about the “good old days,” and wondering what’s wrong with the college kids of their day.
We’ve heard this quote from Churchill many times: “If you’re not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 35, you don’t have a brain.” What you may not know is that if Churchill really said that, and that’s debatable, that quote, or at least a variation of it, comes from a long list of those who had come before him such as French Academic, Anselme Polycarpe Batbie in 1875, French statesman and historian François Guizot who died in 1874, Victor Hugo who died in 1885, King Oscar II of Sweden in 1923, and Kenyon Nicholson in 1925.
A fanatic supporter of Georges Clemenceau burst into his office one day and cried out, “Your son has just joined the Communist Party.” Clemenceau calmly replied, “Monsieur, my son is 22 years old. If he had not become a Communist at 22, I would have disowned him. If he is still a Communist at 30, I will do it then.” I could go on and on ad nauseam, but I think you get the point.
Be Blessed. Be Thankful. Don’t give up hope. And God. Bless. America.