If there is one disappointment many of us Americans who were born between 1946 and 1964 had, it is that we did not fulfill our generation’s ideal of human harmony. Artificial division still runs rampant over our society. Or perhaps these divisions are more publicized these days, which makes them more toxic.
I’m one of the boomers who winces at the barriers that have solidified during the past several years. There are still troubles with racial discrimination, gender inequality, straight versus LGBT, Republicans against Democrats, Russia still trying to bury the United States, and generations conflicting with each other.
Whoever decided to name generations probably didn’t have the foresight to know that dividing generations would promote division and discord.
The Interbellum Generation and the Greatest Generation are fading away. The Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1945) are on their last legs. Those of us who are baby boomers are still going strong, but in different ways. Then there are those of the “Baby Bust” or Generation X, Xennials, Millennials (Gen Next or Generation Y), Gen Z or iGen, and finally Gen Alpha.
There is so much finger pointing or blaming people of different generations for the problems of the world. This is not a new phenomenon. The rift between we boomers and the previous generations was publicized as “The Generation Gap”. If you take the time to listen to older people, you learn that they also experienced some sort of friction between themselves and their elders. There is literary evidence that this phenomenon took place in Ancient Rome and the Greek city/states.
The situation of generations came to mind lately after my recent befriending of Jonathan who is a Millennial. He brought up the fact that two generations separate us. This goes against the common mis-perception that millennials and boomers don’t get along. Jonathan and I independently came to the conclusion that condescension towards other generations is counter-productive. So, it seems that generation gaps are easily and more frequently bridged than commonly believed.
Each generation is marked by historical precedents and landmarks. My early childhood was marked by talk about the Korean War and the Cold War. There was a national fear about atomic bomb attacks from Russia/USSR. I remember fallout shelters and air-raid attack drills. There were the assassinations of leaders I admired like Martin Luther King, Junior, Malcolm X, President John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy. There was the messy conflict in Southeast Asia that seemed to go on forever. The bright spot was the Space Program and of putting humans on the Moon.
Then there were the Civil Rights Movements. The struggles for equality that span several generations of Americans. Generations of Americans long gone have been involved in either promoting equality or tearing it down for as long as the nation has existed. The struggle for and against equality is the main division between conservatives and progressives. In my opinion, all the other hot button issues spring from this rift.
Nowadays, we boomers are concerned or should be concerned about how we will financially survive during our retirement years. We were sold on the idea that the stock market would be the best place to help build our nest eggs. Doing this would ensure a safe, secure retirement fund. We and our employers also paid into the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds that would provide a major source of financial well-being for our golden years. These bedrocks are now under direct attack by a kleptocracy movement that was inspired by corrupt members of the post-Soviet Russian oligarchy.
Non-boomers sometimes accuse us of being self-absorbed. This may be true. However, when we look at other generations, the same is true to them, as well. When the rose-colored glasses are removed we notice existential conflict is present in nearly everyone’s minds regardless of generation. So when the finger of blame is pointed at boomers, three fingers point back to the accusers.
One thing is certain to us boomers, we’re getting older and the off-of-the-rack clothes don’t fit properly anymore. We’re gravitating towards stretchy sweatpants on the one hand, and tailor made suits on the other hand.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes comedian Rita Rudner. “While I do occasionally order items on the Internet, it’s hard to teach an old shopper new tricks. I’m convinced that the catalogue will eventually disappear, but not until the last baby boomers have kicked off their smelly Nikes and been buried in mulch.”