The Infograph above compares significant events and technological advancements across five generations. Besides a somewhat monolithic view of boomers, my take away from the chart is that the economic/employment forecast lies in IT, creative entrepreneurship and quality of life healthcare. This reinforces the futility of bringing back coal mining and expanding fracking to sustain an oil-driven economic base for future job growth.
We need to be much more creative. To make the quantum leap into the future, it is access to education, not mines and heavy machinery, which will provide employment. Vehicles have used computer technology for years. So have factories, processing plants and utility companies. In this world of high-paced technology, the humanities—arts and letters, philosophy and ethics, history and sociology, foreign languages and communication—will be key skills for leadership and employment across the disciplines.
As we become more technologically sophisticated, we need more than ever sound ethical understanding and creative dexterity. If you can't articulate ideas effectively, a machine will do your job. If you can't imagine how short-term decisions affect people in the long-term, irreparable damage to the environment and people's health will be the outcome. The humanities are essential for creating cultural awareness to negotiate for and live in peace with our brother and sister nations.
Reading literature, for example, creates empathy. In France, there is a prisoner rehabilitation program where people convicted of crimes can shorten their prison sentences by reading and submitting essays on literature. Learning how to read, reflect and write has been shown to be an effective rehabilitation tool. As inmates improve their education and awareness, the entire society benefits as they resume living as productive citizens.
Building a wall to keep out the world is the equivalent of an ostrich hiding by burying his head in the sand. We need just the opposite for long-term growth and prosperity. We need to bring down the wall of educational disparity by increasing access from early childhood through college. And we must remain open to the innovation, energy and creativity that mixing different cultures together brings.
The wall represents fear. Fear is not what makes America great. It is our fearlessness to innovate, to take a risk on the unknown, to welcome the stranger, to challenge concepts of the past while maintaining our integrity as a people of compassion—a compassion that transcends race, religion, ideology and country of origin. It is not isolation but inclusion—the celebration of the melting pot of cultures, traditions and innovation—that makes America great.
Data for infograph: https://tinyurl.com/y98ux5l6
French prison reform program: “Lire pour en sortir,” (Read to leave): http://www.lirepourensortir.org/