“I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation”

In a way, this primal scream from Thomas L. Day, a former member of Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile foundation, is a familiar one from a generational standpoint. But it connects so much to the dominant theme of this era – the loss of faith in institutions – that it takes on a crucial significance.

I’m 31, an Iraq war veteran, a Penn State graduate, a Catholic, a native of State College, acquaintance of Jerry Sandusky’s, and a product of his Second Mile foundation.

And I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation.

Day was never a victim of Sandusky’s, though he came up through Second Mile. He has only positive words for the foundation. The negative words he reserves for an entire generation of leaders, who have “failed us, over and over and over again.”

This kind of sentiment is perhaps to be expected from a State College native who sees the hash that those leaders have made of his hometown. But he extends the rationale well beyond sex abuse and coverup.

Think of the world our parents’ generation inherited. They inherited a country of boundless economic prosperity and the highest admiration overseas, produced by the hands of their mothers and fathers. They were safe. For most, they were endowed opportunities to succeed, to prosper, and build on their parents’ work.

For those of us in our 20s and early 30s, this is not the world we are inheriting.

He goes on, writing about being told to go shopping after 9-11, about Tom DeLay saying that “nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes,” about the false premise of Iraq, about the Catholic church’s own sex abuse scandal. About infrastructure woes and high unemployment and a failure to fight “the fortunate and entrenched interests on K Street and Wall Street.” Day writes, “This failure of a generation is as true in the halls of Congress as it is at Penn State.”

The Penn State scandal doesn’t have to connect to this. But it is a symbol of that complete failure of elites and institutions we’ve seen in at least the past decade. There is a connective tissue there. The question is what the newer generation, the backbone of the Occupy movement, the majority of enlistees in our adventures abroad, a generation poised to do worse than its parents and experiencing record high unemployment currently, plans to do about it.

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