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Facebook generation: clicking 'like' won't solve America's problems

Will the Facebook generation step up to confront America’s urgent challenges, from soaring debt to energy?

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To defeat totalitarian dictators, the greatest generation rationed goods, tended victory gardens, paid higher taxes, bought war bonds, and sent 16 million young men and women to war.

To confront rogue nations, terrorists, energy issues, soaring debt, and other urgent problems that threaten America’s security, the Facebook generation has made... virtually no sacrifice at all.

This must change. And it can. Just as the consumerism of the 1920s and isolationism of the 1930s gave way to the thrift and global engagement of the 1940s, so, too, can today’s young adults mature to take on severe challenges.

It won’t be simple, though.

No progress is made without sacrifice, and this generation (my generation) is loath to sacrifice. We see this everywhere: from the water-cooler conversations that focus on “American Idol” to the adoration of women like Paris Hilton and their false pedestals of achievement to the television and mediacentric addiction that drives our choices of what we buy and what we wear. Apparently, we want every luxury and every hope; we want to play, but never to pay.

My generation doesn’t understand the backbreaking labor of an agrarian society, the ruthlessness of a Wild West, or, as in World War II, the sacrifice and motivation to fight a war in which literally thousands are lost in a single day. Compare that with the roughly 5,400 US soldiers killed so far after eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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