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Facebook generation: clicking 'like' won't solve America's problems

Will the Facebook generation step up to confront America’s urgent challenges, from soaring debt to energy?

By Nathan Fisk / April 16, 2010

Colorado Springs, Colo.

To defeat totalitarian dictators, the greatest generation rationed goods, tended victory gardens, paid higher taxes, bought war bonds, and sent 16 million young men and women to war.

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To confront rogue nations, terrorists, energy issues, soaring debt, and other urgent problems that threaten America’s security, the Facebook generation has made... virtually no sacrifice at all.

This must change. And it can. Just as the consumerism of the 1920s and isolationism of the 1930s gave way to the thrift and global engagement of the 1940s, so, too, can today’s young adults mature to take on severe challenges.

It won’t be simple, though.

No progress is made without sacrifice, and this generation (my generation) is loath to sacrifice. We see this everywhere: from the water-cooler conversations that focus on “American Idol” to the adoration of women like Paris Hilton and their false pedestals of achievement to the television and mediacentric addiction that drives our choices of what we buy and what we wear. Apparently, we want every luxury and every hope; we want to play, but never to pay.

My generation doesn’t understand the backbreaking labor of an agrarian society, the ruthlessness of a Wild West, or, as in World War II, the sacrifice and motivation to fight a war in which literally thousands are lost in a single day. Compare that with the roughly 5,400 US soldiers killed so far after eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Harsh news and wretched tears of war spared few families across America through April and May 1944. Allied Air Forces lost almost 12,000 men and 2,000 aircraft as they cleared the way for a ground invasion. On D-Day, the “bravest generation” lost at least 2,500 American servicemen in a single day defending the world against a tyrant. By the end of the war, more than 400,000 of our military had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Critically, it wasn’t just a herculean effort by our armed forces. All Americans contributed because they understood that our future and our values were at stake.

Today, our future is again under threat, but too few young Americans are taking up the call to action.

Our soldiers are certainly an exception. In the past decade, they’ve deposed dictators, enabled free elections, liberated minorities and women, built schools, and invested billions in everything from hospitals to power plants. The struggle to prevail against the enemies of freedom is ongoing, but by almost every objective measure, Americans should be awash with pride at what the sacrifice of our military has nobly accomplished.

The rest of my generation must now step up.

We must view current events through the clarifying prism of history instead of the fun-house mirrors of postmodern culture.

Through a milieu of never-ceasing, nerve-ending satisfaction, we fail to see the screen for the pixels. This generation seems blind to one poor decision after another at the hands of power brokers who are mortgaging our future. In the face of this, it is essential that we cease our shirking, embrace our future, and, without hesitation, exert our influence in a manner heretofore not imagined.

The “bill” coming due is not merely the scourge of national debt. Twenty-five years from now, which countries will threaten peace with nuclear devices? Which terrorist groups will exert power?