Friday, July 10, 2009

Replying to "The Generation M Manifesto"

This one's not about boxing, but it's high time I expand the scope (and increase the content) of this blog a bit. I'll have more to say about that later.

On his blog, Edge Economy, Umair Haque has posted "The Generation M Manifesto." It's an interesting collection of ideas about "reform" and the "new economy," though, to be fair, Haque does not use those exact words. The "Manifesto" tells us how the latest enlightened and techno-savvy generation is going to use its idealism and ethical values to save us from the mess in which we find ourselves today--a mess created by the "Old People Who Run the World."
I don't mean to be snarky about this "Manifesto." Indeed, I agree with the values underpinning the statement. I posted a comment on the blog, but it hasn't been approved yet. Here it is.

Umair,

Thanks for posting this thought-provoking manifesto. There is much that I like about it. There is also much that I don't like. Initially, calling it a "manifesto" is problematic for reasons that, I think, are self-evident.

More seriously, many of the ideas you espouse in the Manifesto are not really "new," and certainly do not originate with "Generation M." On the contrary, they are the aspirations of humanity, including most, if not all, humans alive today. Casting the Manifesto as an answer to a supposed intergenerational conflict appears to misunderstand the division that has prompted you to write this statement of aspirations. It's not a matter of "old" vs. "young" or even "old" vs. "new." What you are seeking is human progress, not a division based on age.

That progress does not depend on age or upon a new "generation" (presumably a wiser and more enlightened one) as you use that term. Instead, it depends on people working together. Let us unite, rather than divide, our potential allies in this work. Note my use of “us” and “our” here; it’s intentional. I consider myself part of the “M” generation that you describe. For the record, I’m 45 years young. People like my parents are also part of the “M” generation, but if you use a demographic term to describe what is really a social movement, then we might leave them out. If you do that, you’ll alienate a lot of talented people who have contributed much to the world—people, including many of those you deride—whose work has, at least in part, made it possible for you to be blogging your ideas here.

I recommend you add another “M” to your list: mindfulness. Mindfulness has its roots in ancient teachings, and is increasingly used in areas such as psychology, psychotherapy, medicine and healthcare, law, and even economics and business. Without this important “M” (or call it “consciousness,” if you prefer), we are likely to commit the same mistakes as those “old people” in your salutation, and probably even worse mistakes as technology advances and exacerbates the impact of our mistakes. (Eckhart Tolle discusses this last phenomenon, what he calls “technology in the service of madness,” in his best-selling book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.)

Finally, please lose the “Dear old people” in your salutation. It’s unnecessarily—and probably unwittingly and unintentionally—offensive and sets a negative tone right from the start.

Overall, I like the Manifesto. You have collected several important ideas that deserve attention, individually, as well as holistically. I’d like to see more discussion of these themes in a context that does not depend on conflict between “generations.” After all, like it or not, we really are all in this together.

Thanks again.

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