Walking the historic grounds of the United States Naval Academy and interacting with its members, one cannot help but be impressed that at its core, this is a group of over four thousand young men and women who are fundamentally idealists and visionaries, people actually willing to put their very lives on the line for something they believe.
Yet these are also a millenial generation of young people raised on texting, tweeting, video gaming and instant communication.
They process visual information in split second bytes. Their attention span has been formed by data streams that are digital not analog in nature.
Analog vs Digital Paradigm Shift
In the following image there are two watches. Each tells the time of day, but they do so in fundamentally different ways. The analog watch on the left displays time as a part of a relational continuum. Ten minutes past the hour has significance, however unconscious, in reference to sun position, day length, time past and even time yet to come. The digital watch on the right displays a blinking cursor in which this moment may or may not have some embedded understanding of past and future. It is simply a readout of the instant.
Millennials are a fully digital generation. They instinctually experience time as a blinking cursor, as a readout of this instant. Perhaps this is why the vast majority of the young prefer texting to actually speaking to the person they are otherwise communicating with.
The challenge for those teaching and seeking to inspire ethical choice to a digital generation is that the moment of ethical dilemma, when you are faced with the heightened emotions and uncertainty of something which could fundamentally alter your entire life, it is your very awareness of the consequence of time as past and future which helps you to instinctively reflect on the potential effects of your choice through time.
It is much more difficult for a generation raised with a reset button in the excitement of video games to imagine that what may appear as the small random acts of a moment, might fundamentally affect the entire course of theirs or other’s lives. Remember, the mission of the Naval Academy is to train wise and effective leaders. In the presence of honorable leadership, military atrocities in our nations history may have never taken place.
The Human Story
Since the dawn of history, human beings have yearned to both tell their own story and hear the stories of others. From the very first primitive hand print on the wall of a cave, we have tried to say, "I am", "I exist".
The power of the human story is incalculable in its potential to move us to be greater than ourselves, to identify ourselves with the most noble aspects of our who we are. Story itself calls to something deep within our nature.
The Integritas films are stories, of both who we are and who we can be.
In that sense, they appeal to an unconscious part of ourselves that is neither analog nor digital but identifies with a sense of time that is universal. It is through the power of story, our human story, that the Integritas films can help the Naval Academy train its leaders in the most noble of human values.
The mission of the US Naval Academy is to train and develop honorable and capable leaders. The Integritas Project is but one example of the innovative tools it employs to carry out that mission.