Friday, January 29, 2016

Young Adult Dystopian Fiction is How Millennials Are Preparing for War

The forces who want the next big war get louder each day.

Young adults are preparing themselves by absorbing story after story about kids being called on to fight a great evil and save the remnant of civilization.  Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Fifth Wave, and many more show the huge market for this fantasy.

The good thing about these stories is that they prepare young people to fight heroically for the right.

The bad thing is that they build the presumption of a coming war for civilization into the taken-for-granted background of our lives.

Howe and Strauss' generation theory predicts a "Crisis of 2020" or thereabouts, when the generations align to produce a major crisis.  The initiative for the war would come from the aging Baby Boomers.  But the people who would do the brunt of the fighting would be Millennials.  And the Millennials seem to be mentally preparing themselves for war.


Dennis Evans said...

I don't know the answer to this. As a baby boomer I did "duck and cover" during the Cuban missle crisis (in 6th grade) and it seems to me that the news and TV gave us an "inevitable nuclear apocalypse" (along with neighbors building bomb shelters). As someone interested in history, I know that the nineteenth century and early 20th tended to have a more optimistic view of history, even through the depression and WW II. Yet people like the current president also insist on optimism. You know there is a strand represented by Star Trek and Disney that are more hopeful. Like I say, I don't know.

Mac said...

This is truly frightening. Like Dennis, I am a baby boomer--born 9 months to the day after the Japanese announced that they would accept our terms. (My Dad had come home after 50 straight months at sea and 5 opposed landings at Tarawa, Kwajalien, Saipan, Tinian, and Pelelieu and told my Mom that he would not start a family until the war was over "Because when we invade Japan, I won't be coming back. I've used up all my luck. I won't leave you a young widow with a baby.") We ducked and covered. My heroes were my Dad and Mush Morton, Donc Donaho, Red Ramage, Howard Gilmore and Sam Dealey, all of glorious renown. After I discovered an outfit known as the US Marine Corps, I read Tregaskis's "Guadalcanal Diary", Sherrod's "Tarawa," Smith's "Coral Comes High", Gallant's "On Valor's Side", Leckie's "Strong Men Armed" and "Helmet For My Pillow", and Thomason's "Fix Bayonets!", and Davis's "Marine:The Life of Lt. General Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller, USMC".

The thrust of my comment is that my reading prepared me--as much as anything short of actually seeing the elephant can prepare a man--for war. I was not reading about witches and games and monsters and zombies. When the time comes, the Millenials will find that they have failed themselves. Whikle I was bound and determined to do nothing to let down the men who had worn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor before me. I wonder if this latest crowd will feel the same sense of duty to Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger?

I am even more concerned that they will go into combat with the mindset that one of my law school class mates had when he asked me, a Major of Marines, if President Carter would re-institute the draft. (Way above my pay grade, I told him.) "Well, I'll be a lawyer and an officer, right?"

"Nah. We'll have all the lawyers we need. You'll probably be a Private infantryman."

"What? What? They wouldn't waste me on that? I mean, I'm not taking orders from a ninth-grade dropout Sergeant!"

And I said something that cut him to the soul, this man who, when I wore my uniform to class after swearing another of our classmates into the Navy, flipped my Expert Rifle badge and said, "So, General, Why the costume?"

It was true, but unkind--and intended to cut him to the heart. "Wow," I said. "That's a pretty elitist thing to say. I suggest that you do everything that Sergeant, a professional, says. He may just get you home in one piece." Sadly, all he heard was "elitist." I thought he was going to cry.

War is a serious and flukey business. You can do everything just right and end up dead. You can do something incredibly stupid (in hindsight) and get away with it. These kids had better read the straight gouge or when they are faced with a howling, maniacal horde shouting "Allahu Akbar," they will find that "Avada Kedavra" is nowhere near as effective as "Commence firing!"