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Word from Out Yonder
I was reminded this week that I’m being classified in a new and uncomfortable way: as a Boomer Who Screwed Everything Up.
Until recently, boomers were considered the backbone of society behind the heroic Golden Generation, having been born after WWII through the death of JFK. They were imbued with the strength of victorious fathers and wisdom of nurturing mothers, and had dinner at the table promptly at 6 every night because that was important for the family unit. We were the Promise of the Future, ushering in the Space Age, Rock and Roll, and Everything All The Time.
Instead, we sat back and spent our children’s inheritance while leaving them to fend for themselves as latchkey kids or day care orphans. We created timeshares and fast food and mass market advertising, turning our children into mindless blobs with overexposure to useless content. But worst of all, according to some bitter Gen Xers and younger, we didn’t leave enough for them.
Because of us, their future is grim, uncertain, and bleak as we blew through all the good stuff.
My first impulse was to take offense and say, "Fine, blame us. Get in line, you snot-nosed kids." We were told it was good to max out our credit and remain cash poor for years for you, having things but worrying about how to pay for them. I even tweeted a snarky comment along those lines.
But then I thought, No. I’d just be doing what they are, blaming my father for my problems.
The truth is, every generation shares some blame or credit for the way things are once they hit adulthood and mix in with the Adults. They all share the burden of what to leave for later generations or what to expect from earlier ones. I didn’t expect to get anything from my dad, and like he taught me, try to leave things better off than when I found them. That takes good people who aren’t too selfish though.
In my opinion, Gen X are sharper than my generation, simply because they embrace change more willingly. Computers, technology, and the content they bring are like a firehose that many in my generation still barely grasp. To Gen X and younger, it’s the water they swim in. I figure that’s both a blessing and a curse, as many can’t handle the things they see, and despair kills many who never get a chance to live. Things that would otherwise remain in a small pocket in some obscure place become viral and affect people who don’t understand the context. Shock value is what kids want, I did too, but today that means so much more than when I was young.
My grandson’s generation is even more ingrained with the Information Age, and is also both blessed and cursed. It both scares me and thrills me when I think of what they’ll see in their lifetimes.
At the same time the world spins culturally faster, things that were important to my generation, like having children, are less so now in many places with a faster way of life and fewer reasons to have them. Of course there are many reasons that contribute to the population decline, but it’s easy to see the population is no longer growing where there are better things to do than raise kids. The danger is that this truth remains; if you stop having children and teaching them your ways, your culture will be replaced. I figure this is how many of the lessons of the past are forgotten and have to be re-learned by future generations.
We all live with the choices we collectively make, and all share the blame if it goes off the rails. The good people of all generations learn and live by that, and are the ones who keep making the good better even as the bad get worse.