Column: What defines our generation?

By Billy Joe Mills

When running through the pages of American history, we gain the vision of an optimistic democracy that motivated the sacrifices of previous generations. They died in wars, they starved in depressions and they blackened their lungs with industrialization. They toiled and they dreamed, not just for themselves, but also for us.

Today their dreams ride toward reality. Our generation sits on the cusp between what humanity was and what humanity will be. We are unique, not because we have no physical threats, but because we have no ideological threats.

We are the first generation that can look upon the world and see that our form of government and economics has triumphed. What legions and armadas did for past empires, democracy and capitalism are doing for us. Therein lies the difference – empires can rule the world through violence and subdue others for a time, but inevitably their bloody grip unfurls. Our success has been in conquering the realm of ideas. Mercantilism, fascism and communism have all died as legitimate alternatives to America. Terrorism remains a physical threat, but not a legitimate threat to the ideological current of humanity.

We are the transitional generation. We will determine how future Americans will act in this new era of ideological peace. This will define us. Our generation owes a debt to the struggles of our ancestors. We are charged with pushing on America’s circle of empathy, so that its diameter covers the world.

This task is made practical because the beauty of our ideological empire is that democracy and capitalism forge a synergy between our national interest and the welfare of humanity. It was in the interest of our national security and of humanity for us to supplant Saddam with democracy. It was in our interest of regional stability and of humanity that we should have militarily intervened in Rwanda and Sudan. Even in instances where no national interest can be identified, we still have the moral duty to use our wealth and our power to combat the evils of the world. For the first time in history, the good guys are the ones with the power. For the first time in history a country has so much power and wealth that it can begin to look beyond its artificially drawn borders, which mystically proclaim that we should only care about people who live on this side of the map’s line and not on that side.

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While the diffusion of democracy upon all of humanity is inevitable, our generation must hasten its spread. We are imbued with the responsibility to throw the dreams of all humans who struggled before us into reality. Our predecessors don’t ask of us even one-tenth of what was asked of them. Our generation must stand up and lead. We should release our wealth, empathy and humanity across the globe, not because we have to, but because we understand that it is the right thing to do.

Billy Joe Mills