Well, to be fair, I am gonna talk about approximately 8 generations…maybe throw in the Camel story…anyway, here goes…
Firstly, the word ‘generation’ when applied to a time span is bizarrely inaccurate. Some people consider it to be 20 years and some 30 and some even 35 depending on the application. The Iroquois, apparently considered it to be 75 years. For the sake of Dave’s convenience, I am going to use 30 years. Why? Well, 30 divided into 240 results neatly at 8. And also because modern reproductive cycles have edged upwards towards thirty year old first-time mothers rather than the previous generations 20 year old first time mothers.
Contradicting hugely what I just said is the list of the last seven named generations:
- The Greatest Generation (born 1901–1927)….26 years
- The Silent Generation (born 1928–1945)………17 years
- Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964)………………..18years
- Generation X (born 1965–1980)…………………..15 years
- Millennials (born 1981–1995)……………………….14 years
- Generation Z (born 1996–2010)……………………14 years
- Generation Alpha (born 2011–2025)………………14 years
That 14/15 year span, again, kinda flies in the face of the so-called ‘generations’ definition but I suspect that this modern shorter-term version is based somewhat on buying power and economics but who the hell really knows?
“So why write about it, then?”
Because of the camels. According to a friend who heard a story about the generations, an old Arab told his son: “My great, great grandfather rode a camel. My great grandfather rode a camel. My grandfather rode a camel and my father rode a camel. I drive a Mercedes Benz. My son drives a Lexus and his son is planning on a Tesla. But the next generation after that will ride a camel again.”
“Why, oh, great Mercedes driver, God willing……will the last one ride a camel?
“Ah, my little fig eater, it has always been thus. The first few generations build up empires complete with institutions and wealth. But they had to deal with trouble, strife, hard work, obstacles and invention to achieve that. And, eventually, their children benefitted with riches, entitlement, softness and a Mercedes Benz, S-class, with all the bells and whistles. After fewer generations of indulgence and decadence, the empire collapses and the next new generation has to learn to ride camels again.”
It has also been noted by historians (H.Cox-Richardson) that empires prevail for approximately (on average) 240 years. Interesting, don’t you think? The USA (1776 to 2022) is 246 years years old and showing some fraying around the edges. But, again with the contradictions: The Qing Dynasty lasted 350 years, the British Empire reportedly lasted 400 years and the Ottoman Empire lasted 600.
“So, the point is….?”
Empires come and go. Change is inevitable. Sometimes TEOTWAWKI sets us back to more primal times. And then some group, tribe, society eventually comes along to overcome the setback, work hard, invent, and set a new, higher standard……but…well, it seems to require hitting the bottom first and then a lot of hard work and creativity to get out.
And all that cycle requires at least 8 generations (using 30 as the length) or 16 generations if you use 15 (as has the last few listed generations). We may be approaching the end of the Western/American Empire (according to historians and the average) but we may just be half way through another 400-600 year reign. Who the hell knows?
The only hard truth I can find in all that mental meandering is that I was lucky enough to live at the apex of the latest empire rather than at the harder beginning. Or, if not the apex, at least on the ascendancy, the upside. I may be the Mercedes Benz driver. And I have been very, very lucky.