I agree with the millennial and Z generations that a major transformation of our culture is required to confront the racism, misogyny, gun violence and economic inequality that threatens the future of our country.
I believe that health care is a human right, not a privilege of wealth; that our system of education needs to look more like Denmark’s than like that of 1950 America.
I believe that climate change is a mortal threat to the future of my country and the world.
I believe that racial, gender and religious diversity should be front and center in all of our social, political and business institutions; that all children should live in safe neighborhoods, eat nutritious meals, and have access to high-quality early-childhood education.
I believe that these goals will only be achieved if their parents earn a living wage, have the necessary paid time off to care for their children, and economic and social support when needed.
I believe that the young immigrants we now classify as “Dreamers” should have immediate access to full citizenship; and, that America must have a regulatory system that promotes clean air and water, safe food and equitable workplaces as basic human rights; and, finally, we must have a tax system that raises the funds necessary to accomplish all of the above.
I would guess that support and opposition to the beliefs I hold will primarily but not absolutely break down by generation. Many of those who agree will probably chastise me for not going far enough; many of those who disagree will call me a socialist. I do not despair when people disagree, particularly if they have thoughtful and substantive reasons for doing so. I see the diversity of opinions and ideas as potential strengths for America.
No one person or party has all the answers and it is the primary task of politics to seek common ground by seeking common good–– rather than the victory of one ideological/political agenda over another. I believe that a positive and lasting change will come only through compromise and consensus rather than revolution, through pragmatism instead of dogmatism. A democracy cannot function when a slim majority imposes autocratic rule on the minority. A position that champions compromise and accommodation is a difficult stance to take in today’s hostile public arena and my hope is that the millennials and those who follow them can figure it out.
We of the silent and boomer generations have wisdom accumulated from life experience to offer, but the future is not ours. It belongs to our children, their children, and their children. It belongs to that 25-year old woman I spoke with last week. My hope is that the generations can come together around a common vision and a common commitment–––and, that we elders will support them or get out of the way. Their future depends on it.
About Bill Jamieson
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, religion and education. He currently serves as president of the Micah Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. He was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church in 1989, and his ministry has centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.
Bill taught master-degree level courses in leadership and management at the School of Theology at Claremont, California. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University, teaching courses in public management, politics and ethics, and was a founding board member of ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Bill has lectured at Northern Arizona University, The University of Arizona, Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, Christ Church University in Canterbury, England, and in community forums across the United States.
Bill served in two cabinet-level appointments in Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt’s administration and as chair of the Governor’s cabinet. Prior to that, he worked in Governor Jimmy Carter’s administration in Georgia, and with the Carter administration in Washington, D.C.
He left government in 1984 to form a public affairs and management consulting firm in Phoenix. He returned to state government in February of 1989, at the request of Governor Rose Mofford to assist in her transition. He returned to the firm in July of 1989 and sold his interest in the company in 1991.
Bill was also the majority owner of two other businesses, E&J Travel at Travis Air Force Base in California, and Travis Express, an airport-connector bus company in Northern California. He sold his interest in both companies before moving to North Carolina in 1995.
Bill has served as a member of six corporate boards, four privately held and two public companies. He was also appointed to be a member of the special committee of a third public company board. Bill has been a leader on many non-profit organization boards. In North Carolina he has served as chair of the board of Action for Children North Carolina in Raleigh, and as chair of the board of Children First/Communities in Schools in Asheville, NC.
Bill was graduated from the University of Arizona in 1965 with a BA degree, and from Georgia State University in 1976 with an MS degree. He has been honored with awards from four universities: the Distinguished Alumni Award from Georgia State University, the Distinguished Citizen Award from the University of Arizona, the Distinguished Achievement Award from Arizona State University, and the Grace Lee Peace Award from Warren Wilson College.
Bill has been a visiting fellow at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, and he has completed courses of study at the Duke, Emory and Harvard business schools. He also completed the International Relations curriculum at the Cambridge University International Summer School in Cambridge, England.