A millennial female working for a Silicon Valley software startup recently complained to “Ask Amy” that nerf darts were whistling about the work area, striking windows, equipment, her and other employees. All of the employees are millennials.
One dart reportedly hit an employee in the eye. A group of mostly male employees were reportedly responsible for the Nerf gun battles. This young lady asks Amy if she should take this to human resources or whether this is normal office activity. She fears she will be labeled difficult-to-work-with.
How did 30 become the new 15?
Immature character in tech is exceedingly worrisome. Neglect of security has already wrought an alarmingly insecure critical infrastructure. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the new rush. Veritone’s CEO reports that in 10 years or less, we may not be able to tell if we are talking to a machine or a person. Some software developers aim to make machines smarter than us.
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Millennials may snicker as their machines learn to shoot Nerf darts, but irresponsibly created thinking machines can decide to do far worse.
Poor character is widespread. Top executives receive rich bonuses largely tied to short-term profits, not customer service. CEOs fear termination if short-term profits fall short.
Airlines that once competed to have the most amenities for customers, most on-time arrivals and least lost baggage complaints now bonus top management exclusively or largely based on the company’s income and cost savings. People are packed more densely than ever.
Flying is decidedly an unpleasant experience, even for those who are not dragged off the plane when the airline oversells the plane to insure maximum profit on a full flight.
Colleges and universities saddle students with enormous debts that are far more challenging than the rock-climbing walls they financed. Too many students arrive and leave unschooled in the importance of reason in society and of a unified national culture. “Trigger warnings” send students by race and gender off to their segregated “safe spaces.”
Unaware of or ignoring the nearly $20 trillion national debt, too many uncritically accept that America is purportedly the “the richest nation on earth” that not only can deliver, but owes, something for nothing to everyone. Advertisements for products and services state they are what the consumer “deserves,” not “needs.”
The law erstwhile infamously required segregation, but now racial and cultural groups voluntarily segregate, exalt their own culture and history over a united national culture, and ignore or denounce the nation’s history. Multicultural chaos looms.
We are all responsible for our neglect of America’s founding ideals. In 2000, “No Child Left Behind” left behind American civics and history for all students. The broad loss of this education helps facilitate multicultural chaos and poor character. Older adults also often seem to have little or no anchoring in the high ideals of the nation’s founding principles. Judges are “so-called.”
Tribal devotion to those of the same viewpoint inhibits listening to others, obscures common ground, and prevents pursuit of the general good.
The process of implementing the nation’s unifying founding principles requires the work of every generation. The study of those principles, their history and the people who struggled to establish them is essential to this work and to build individual and national character.
We fought a great, bloody Civil War to determine whether a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” could long endure. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address still resonates,
It is rather for us, the living, … from these honored dead [to] take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and Adams, among others, sought to implement ideals intended to remedy the evils and faults of their times/our time. They labored and sacrificed to create a unifying exceptional national character. For all of us, their biographies are lessons in character, starting with James Thomas Flexner’s condensed single volume, “Washington: The Indispensable Man.”
Daniel O. Jamison is an attorney with Dowling Aaron Incorporated. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.