Imagine a future world, complex and technologically advanced, where children are forced to grow up ax previous generations did, with manual labor, poor sanitation, all the privations and risks that the present society was built to improve upon. The idea: that no one grow up without realizing why things are as they are, without entitlement or unearned privilege.
The conflict: this system is mothballed, decommissioned, and for awhile things are ok. But a sense of complacency creeps in, generations grow up feeling like they built their world, rather than accepting it as a legacy from thoughtful predecessors. The society is at risk of collapse when it is discovered that some people, families who were forced out of the mainstream, have been living in The Past, the old proving ground where generations came of age. They are tough, resourceful people who need nothing but may be the deliverers – if they are willing to take it on and if those who marginalized them can swallow their pride and ask.