Two compelling articles in the Wednesday Tribune had the bad luck to run a couple of pages from each other. The first, by Michelle Manchir, introduced us to Syrian university students who have come to America to study in peace. The story ended dramatically. Zeina Abdul-Samad, now at IIT, mourned the students she'd left behind. "When I think about what these students could achieve here, I feel very bad because we're losing a generation," she said. "An educated generation."
After reading that, I turned the page to Michael Hawthorne's report (which began on page one and jumped inside) on the health hazards posed by Chicago's ancient lead pipes and water mains. The story ended dramatically. A lead expert who'd studied the problem for the EPA said it's so huge, not just here but in cities across America, that utilities and state governments hate to acknowledge it. "But if we don't start to do something, we're sacrificing another generation of children to the hazards of lead."
I'd accepted the claim made by Abdul-Samad as figuratively and perhaps even literally true. The warning of the EPA guy felt like a stretch. And reading them together, I wondered if it was time to issue an alert to copy desks everywhere. So I searched the Internet.
From globalpost.com: "A new report by UK charity Oxfam says that austerity in Europe may be creating a 'lost generation' through lack of economic opportunity."
From the sports blog WaitingForNextYear: "MLB is losing a generation of fans by being stubborn for no apparent reason."
From Inside Higher Education: "'I fear that we're going to be losing a generation of bright young scientists who might take their talents in other directions,' he said. 'I'm seeing it already in the choices that people make as they complete their clinical training now, but it'll trickle down to people in graduate school and undergraduates.'"
From WalesOnline: "'Unemployment in Wales is consistently higher than in England, especially amongst our young people. There's been a 35% increase in the number of apprenticeships offered in England since 2010. In Wales, that number has fallen by a third and communities risk losing a generation of talented young people.'"
From The Age, a daily in Melbourne, Australia: "Premier Denis Napthine has urged Tony Abbott to promote more women from Victoria into the federal ministry, as the new prime minister seeks to address a gender gap within his senior ranks . . . . Speaking on this issue last year, deputy Liberal leader Louise Asher warned that the party was in danger of 'losing a generation' unless more women were preselected to run for Parliament."
From London's Telegraph: "Army chiefs are particularly concerned they are losing a generation of officers who have gained invaluable experience from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan."
From The Australian: "Tony Abbott recognised this vital link when we were in northeast Arnhem Land recently. 'We will know reconciliation has been achieved when Aboriginal people have the same educational attainments, the same life expectancy and the same employment prospects as everyone else,' he said. Historically there has been a plethora of placebo policies, ineffectual treatment intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given placebos have a perceived improvement in their condition, but here we aren't talking about a perception, we are talking about losing a generation of Australian children, and the nightmare isn't imagined, it is real."
From the weekly message of the president of the Florida Education Association: "There's no question that Florida faces stiff challenges economically. I'll admit that a tax increase doesn't sound very appealing in difficult times. But we're just beginning to feel the impacts of the budget cuts that have already been passed. The next round of budget cuts will cause even greater damage. We're sacrificing this generation of students on an altar of supposed fiscal responsibility. That's a recipe for longer-term disaster."
WCHS News, quoting the president of the Kanawha County Commission in West Virginia: "We're losing a generation of young children to meth. We need to do something, instead of saying, 'Well, we really tried.'"
These are all recent postings. From earlier this year I spotted these headlines:
Reuters: "Banks saved, but Europe risks 'losing a generation'"
Dailykos.com: "Democrats Risk Losing a Generation to Cynical Libertarianism"
In every case I'm sure the author was certain the language he or she had chosen couldn't possibly be more compelling.
But things wear out.