Man Of The Year: The Inheritor

  • Share
  • Read Later

(See Cover)

The Man of the Year ran the mile in 3:51.3, and died under mortar fire at An Lao. He got a B-minus in Physics I, earned a Fulbright scholarship, filmed a documentary in a Manhattan ghetto, and guided Gemini rendezvous in space. He earns $76 a week with Operation Head Start in Philadelphia, picks up $10,800 a year as a metallurgical engineer at Ford, and farms 600 acres of Dakota wheat land. He has a lightning-fast left jab, a rifling right arm, and reads medieval metaphysicians. He campaigned for Reagan, booed George Wallace, and fought for racial integration. He can dance all night, and if he hasn't smoked pot himself, knows someone who has. He tucks a copy of Playboy into his concerto score as he records with the Boston Philharmonic.

He is disenchanted with Lyndon Johnson, is just getting over his infatuation with Jack Kennedy—and will some day run for President himself.

For the Man of the Year 1966 is a generation: the man—and woman—of 25 and under.

In the closing third of the 20th century, that generation looms larger than all the exponential promises of science or technology: it will soon be the majority in charge. In the U.S., citizens of 25 and under in 1966 nearly outnumbered their elders; by 1970, there will be 100 million Americans in that age bracket. In other big, highly industrialized nations, notably Russia and Canada, the young also constitute half the population. If the statistics imply change, the credentials of the younger generation guarantee it. Never have the young been so assertive or so articulate, so well educated or so worldly. Predictably, they are a highly independent breed, and—to adult eyes—their independence has made them highly unpredictable. This is not just a new generation, but a new kind of generation.

Omphalocentric & Secure. What makes the Man of the Year unique?

Cushioned by unprecedented affluence and the welfare state, he has a sense of economic security unmatched in history. Granted an ever-lengthening adolescence and lifespan, he no longer feels the cold pressures of hunger and mortality that drove Mozart to compose an entire canon before death at 35; yet he, too, can be creative.

Reared in a prolonged period of world peace, he has a unique sense of control over his own destiny—barring the prospect of a year's combat in a brush-fire war. Science and the knowledge explosion have armed him with more tools to choose his life pattern than he can always use: physical and intellectual mobility, personal and financial opportunity, a vista of change accelerating in every direction.

Untold adventure awaits him. He is the man who will land on the moon, cure cancer and the common cold, lay out blight-proof, smog-free cities, enrich the underdeveloped world and, no doubt, write finis to poverty and war.

For all his endowments and prospects, he remains a vociferous skeptic.

Never have the young been left more completely to their own devices. No adult can or will tell them what earlier generations were told: this is God, that is Good, this is Art, that is Not Done.

Today's young man accepts none of the old start-on-the-bottom-rung formulas that directed his father's career, and is not even sure he wants to be A Success. He is one already.

In the omphalocentric process of self-construction and discovery, he

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10
  12. 11