The title for this week’s lecture theme, “The Next Greatest Generation,” suggests optimism and boundless potential, for my peers and me. What we really crave, however, is candor. Chautauqua is a place that thrives on messages of hopeful promise. But what made this week’s presentations from Chris Hayes and Paula Kahumbu so compelling was their honesty about the scope of the challenges that our generation faces, be it the specific case of Kenya, facing relentless greed of poachers and the markets they serve, or the broader decline of trust in major institutions within the United States. Hayes and Kahumbu both attempt to speak truth to a power structure that they realize is deeply entrenched, and it is this context that made their presentations so fully credible. Kahumbu’s exhaustive campaign to end elephant poaching — from cleverly redesigned currency to ubiquitous receipt stamps and billboards — was an object lesson in how fearless and ambitious young people must be if they want to mount a serious challenge to market-driven greed and the political passivity it engenders. Dalia Mogahed also provided some inspiration grounded in reality when she spoke of the courage of Muslim youth in demanding a voice in their societies’ governance — but against a backdrop of social neglect, born of greed and complacency from the oligarchies that ruled both their governments and their economies (which may sound familiar to those who heard Hayes as well.)
At Friday’s morning lecture, a liberal television host and magazine editor, a researcher on Muslim-American studies, a major in the United States Army and the vice president of Google[x] gathered on the Amphitheater stage to talk about what it means to be part of “The Next Greatest Generation.”
Chris Hayes, Dalia Mogahed, James Smith and Megan Smith have all spoken in some capacity at Chautauqua Institution this week.
Hayes, who moderated the panel, began the conversation by asking James how he sees the past generation’s emphasis on service in the military in relation to the next generation’s service in the military.
Throughout the week, several men and women have offered their unique perspectives on “The Next Greatest Generation.” Vice President of Google[x] Megan Smith spoke about the “creative collaboration age” wrought by technology and the Internet, and James Smith of the United States Army explained the potential role of the “military millennial” generation in rehabilitating America’s value system. Dalia Mogahed, senior research advisor at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, lectured on U.S. engagement in the Islamic world, and political commentator Chris Hayes outlined meritocracy’s role in what he called the “fail decade.”
At 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater, all four lecturers will share their different perspectives at a special panel discussion.
Imagine Edward Snowden’s last day at the National Security Agency — he quietly drops files onto his flash drive, packs up his laptop, exits the NSA’s Hawaiian office, packs his bags, boards airline security and finally breathes a sigh of relief as his plane crosses into international airspace.
In Chris Hayes’ latest book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, he details the collapse of American institutions, which he attributes to meritocracy. Hayes will present his theory at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.
Under meritocracy, social advancement is based on merit, which is typically earned through education, competency and credentials. But, Hayes argues, what sounds like a reasonable test for leadership has its flaws. The system ignores those who may be suited for leadership but have not had the same resources as the elite. Thus, many leaders are selected from an upper class and may be out of touch with the people they govern.