Children of the Fifth World, by P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D., Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2012, 261 pages.


            My senior friends and I sometimes lament the state of the world and see little hope for things changing and reversing themselves when we observe young people, primarily those under 30 – referred to as the millennials. While agreeing that there are many  exceptions, we too often see surly, brash, hedonistic, narcissistic, slothful, and obnoxious youth with an entitlement attitude.  We shake our heads in disgust and despair, wondering if we are now at the same point as Rome was when Nero played his lyre and sang as the city burned. We wonder if progress is really wave-like and if we are in the process of bottoming out so that we can go upward.  And we wonder whether it will take a major catastrophe or long-term economic collapse to reverse things.

            If P. M. H. Atwater, the author of this intriguing book, is correct, there is hope.  In spite of the seemingly insurmountable negatives, including the facts that two out of every five children in the U.S. have learning disorders, one out of every ten is mentally ill, cases of ADHD are up 600 percent since the early 1990s, and autism has become an epidemic, Atwater sees countering and redeeming positives with a quantum leap in evolution, leading to a complete transition into the “Fifth World.” which according to Mayan legend marks the age of modern man and space travel while fusing masculine and feminine energies.    The book is sub-titled “Guide to the Coming Changes in Human Consciousness.”

            Atwater notes that the millennials are unique and calls the current situation a “youth quake” that is engulfing many countries.  “No other generation except theirs views the world first through a screen,” she explains. “Cell phones, smart phones, iPads, computers, television...all screens.  Hence, their mind-set is global and they think in multiples or grids.  Imagery, virtual realities, and digital worlds are their comfort zone; nature is a foreign object.  Because they are so capable, so quick, we cram more into their young lives than is healthy or appreciated.”  She asks if what disgusts us can find a place in our hearts and if the chaos and disorder we perceive can produce the foresight and ingenuity necessary to remake our families, our communities, our culture, our world.  She says the answer is “yes,” but the question is “how?”

           “The antidote to overstimulus and the addictive qualities of the electronic world is its opposite,” she suggests, “...the imaginal realm of spirit.”  She adds that while kids these days may be in lockstep with digital nanoseconds, they are just as tuned into other realms of existence.  She points out that older kids define spirituality as alchemy without props and while only a small fraction relate to church and the religious experience, many see God as an ever-present reality.   

            One of the foremost researchers and authors in the field of near-death experiences, Atwater has observed that many of the millennials are just like children who have had a near-death experience – extremely intelligent, music oriented, creative, innovators, intuitive, humanitarian, and spiritually minded.  Among their negative traits, they are  impatient, impulsive, overconfident, intolerant, feel entitled, and have no concept of authority. Nor were they raised in a manner that has prepared them for what has happened with the economy.  “They were spoiled and fully expected to find the opportunities they felt entitled to receive,” Atwater concludes. “Their anger is palpable, as they continue to fuss and complain.  And it is their anger that will drive, push, insist, and demand a better world.”