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Our Next Generation


Owens Illinois, Bridgeton, NJ

One of the benefits to growing older is the possibility of expanded perspective. Because things have changed so much, change doesn't seem so disruptive. Because we've experienced difficult times before, tough times seem more like the natural order of things rather than impending doomsday. For goodness sakes, having lived thru the daily fear of nuclear annihilation other problems pale in comparison. They're still serious, yet survivable.

As leaders we owe our teams a sort of resilient perspective. Especially our younger team members, who have not lived thru crisis after crisis for decades on end and might hear their own doomsday clock ticking loud enough to deepen their anxiety. We can help with that, even when we can't solve every problem. For not every problem is solvable, at least not immediately, but given determination, science, and able leadership each generation can make life better. 

I admire our youngest generations for their willingness to make things better. There's no need to accept the nonsense and inequity that have for centuries (yes, I know, way longer) walked hand in hand with progress. True progress should be, and can be, fair. We do not have to marry money and evil, materials and mistakes. We are all still learning no matter what our age, and learning leads to improvement.

Our next generation, the generation of change and improvement that we start today, matters. We hold brilliant possibilities in our hands. Let's make the most of it -- fairly, humanely, and with respect.

-- doug smith

P.S. About the photo:

I don't know who took this arial picture of the Owens Illinois glass factory in my home town of Bridgeton, NJ. It's not there anymore -- most of the structure has been torn down. At one time it was a thriving jobs generator that needed so many workers it had to recruit them from the south. Some of my family hails from West Virginia as a result. Every family in the small town of Bridgeton was touched in one way or another by this company. But, as did so many companies in once-thriving small towns across the northern United States did, the glass factory fled to the south, taking with it all of its jobs and the last shreds of prosperity our small town knew. 

How is this a symbol of our next generation? This is what I think: we cannot rely on big companies to take care of us -- they have made that crystal clear. But we cannot let them determine our fates, either. 

When we work to solve problems and achieve our goals, let's restore some nobility to the process. Let's consider all of our constituents before slicing a corner to save a buck. Let's build a better world with room for everyone. It's not easy, and we've been doing a terrible job at it forever, but we can and must change. Why not change our next generational innovations into the best ever? It's worth a try.


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