The month of May ushers new graduates from the class of 2014. While there are many speeches about hopes and dreams of better futures, the class of 2014 confronts challenges of a new century. What lies ahead?
Historians of every age say that history repeats itself over and over. The class of 2014 faces new challenges that classes of previous years and decades may not have dreamed. The eyes and minds of the class of 2014 can’t imagine what people of the class of 1974 or 1984 looked forward to. In the 19th century, the purported father of socialism, Karl Marx, wrote that history repeats itself – First as history, second as farce. I like George Bernard Shaw’s 20th century statement, “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” The class of 2014 are set to shape the history for their future generations. Will history continue to repeat itself?
Most of the college graduates of the class of 2014 were born to a society of computers, mobile phones, mobile music and video. Their reality doesn’t include any memories of what life was like )and how things moved) before personal computers. They grew in an age of microchip electronics. In a way, they are pitched to face an open era that is not much different than 1914.
In 1914, graduates faced a world of electricity. Many parts of the USA no longer had gas lighting. The world was free with opportunities to harness this energy for improving everyday living.
The phonograph and radio brought information and music that was virtually impossible to access before. Music changed to suit the masses instead of the few. Cars were replacing horses and walkers on streets. Any young adult that could attend college probably had parents that owned a Ford Model T motorcar. This gas powered vehicle replaced 20 horses and achieved a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. This was impossible a decade earlier.
Vehicles went into the sky as airplanes. They helped replace steamships as faster ways of travel. They were able to treat plantings with particles to prevent insect and rodent infestation. They were able to fight and win wars. Many of the class of 2014 lived to see televisions replace radios at home and many saw black-&-white become color. Many saw the dreams of tomorrow exhibited in fairs around the world. 1914 boasted 11 such fairs.
In 1914, with greater mobility than ever, the first world war began. Compared to the 750,000 declared dead during the United States Civil War battles from 1861 to 1865 seemed tiny to the estimated 10 million military deaths of World War One from 1914 to 1919. Monarchies fell and Communism emerged in Russia. The class of 1914 survived two world wars.
At each generation born in the 20th century, the threat of USA war involvement was always present. While nuclear war is restrained to avoid an Armageddon, the threat of wars to keep the peace is ironically repeated. The numbers of dead and wounded escalate. Many of these were happy graduates. What war lies ahead for the class of 2014?
The 1950’s brought many affordable electric appliances from washers and dryers to toasters and gas or electric ovens that modernized every home. Household cleaners became more efficient. These were the products that were produced earlier by graduates of the class of 1914.
From 1900 to 1999, people got together in movie theaters, at home, at stadiums, at churches, and at rallies. It was a century of upheavals and the revisionist downfall of institutions and lifestyles that those from the class of 1914 may have held dearly. The dominating philosophy within the USA and the class of 1914 was to ensure that each USA working citizen had the opportunity to have money and service in times of unemployment, disability, retirement, and poverty.
Gone were the milkmen and bakeries that made home deliveries. The internet was beginning to replace paper and many sites were laying the foundations of social media. Google wasn’t yet around but search engines were just evolving. Many of those have fallen into the history books. Most of those books may be viewed on smartphones and tablets today.
Congratulations Class of 2014 is in order. As you seek opportunities to shape your lives and careers, your paths aren’t as clearly defined as you might have dreamed. Your dreams may come true or fade away. Things may occur beyond imagination.
Members of the Class of 2014 need only look at social media for interaction. Televisions might be replaced by tablets and tablets might be replaced by virtual-reality glasses. This is the era where money is abstract but consumable commodities are empowerments. Many more businesses and institutions are dying out as online services become mainstays instead of options.
Crime is moving beyond the streets into your hands when online, sharing, or downloading apps. No matter where you are, you will find yourself susceptible to crime against your identity. It won’t be because of race, ethnicity, or gender. It will attack your existence through greater online dependencies. Newfound mobility may backfire. You may find yourself one of many victimized. Is history reflected online?
Congratulations Class of 2014 and celebrate what is to come. Remember to fund your futures and find the paths that lead to happiness. The future holds many promises but reaching for them may require newer tools and perspectives. Like the class of 1914, live longer, better, and see how your future generations live in a world that you hope will be better than today.
In 1954, George Orwell’s 1984 was published and people read about a dreadful dystopian future where a dictator monitored your every move and each word. Recently, Edward Snowden revealed that this vision may not have been so far fetched. We have found that some Presidents secretly recorded their conversations. We hear that corporations and nations can tap into the content we present on our mobile devices. Was George Orwell’s vision somewhat accurate? Class of 2014 members, please don’t let the follies of the past repeat in your futures.