BOSTON-The newest generation, the Millennials, are revealing a glimpse of optimism following their realist predecessors: the Gen X'ers. According to generational expert Neil Howe, the Millennial Generation-those born after 1982-are generally exhibiting a more positive outlook for their collective futures, a renewed appreciation of the nation and its history as well as government, improved test scores, and lower crime rates. He said that the last time this occurred was with the GIs in the early 20th Century who were the first Boy Scouts and were interested in civic virtue. Howe explained that this must be what we need right now. He emphasized that there are no good or bad generations. "It's usually what the country needs at the time.Generations want to have kids who can do the things they cannot," he said. The Millennials' optimism may be necessary to follow up on the Gen X'ers' (age 21-41). When this generation was born, the country had turned against having children and movies like Rosemary's Baby and Carrie were made. The key is to figure out how a group at age 18 will act when they are 38, Howe said. For example, the GI Generation was the first for Boy Scouts and became politically active in adulthood. They were established an A-frame structure of organization, with one at the top on down, and were happy to work within it. They coined the term `senior citizen.' Their children were the Silent Generation, who did not start their own businesses because they wanted to work for someone else, within the system. They initiated the `midlife crisis' because they married young and took life too seriously in their adolescence. They have been the first generation not to occupy the White House, Howe observed, but they brought America rock `n' roll and civil rights. The Baby Boomers then bucked that trend by stressing individuality and focusing on values. Howe summed up the Boomers with a quote from Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.): "Whatever Baby Boomers touch makes it more meaningful but less effective." And the generational cycle continued on with the Gen X'ers and finally, to the Millennials, who could be the new GIs. -

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