Chicago comic and friend Catherine “Povs” Povinelli posted that question on Facebook the other day. As a Boomer, technically, born 1962, my first reaction was a thought I’d had for a long time. And I’ll accept responsibility for my generation’s missteps, but there is equal blame to go around regardless of what year you were born. I’ll get to that, but first some effort of generational reconciliation is imperative.
My generation was decidedly and openly non-political, as a whole. Not for any reason. We were just lazy. The election turnout peaked in 1960. In 1972 it took a nose dive and has remained in the embarrassingly low 50% range since. We partied. We were the last generation before AIDS. In the era of Oprah, local news, mall reports and the consumer generation, we were blithely irresponsible. Mass entertainment, the advent of cable TV and the dawn of Reagan and Clinton era media deregulation erasing boundaries between information and marketing, we settled into a comfortable ignorance. By the time significant realities were coming home to roost we were numbed and dumbed, fat, lazy and righteously judgmental now that we had begun to spawn. MOTHERHOOD IS THE HARDEST JOB, OR IS IT COPS, FIREMEN, SEWER WORKERS, ELVIS IMPERSO…?
As for the later, it was my generation that abandoned Dr. Spock, for video games and TV, placating children into oblivion. We shoved them in a corner with a toy and continued partying, hitting the beauty parlor and bars and essentially treated kids like pets, unless we needed a reason to call in sick to work.
Essentially, on a cultural, economic and social level we were fattened lambs for the slaughter. It began to the slow erasure of news and journalism into information; a qualitative difference. The Oprah generation complained that news overseas didn’t mean anything and brought disturbing images to young and impressionable minds. WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE SAVE THE CHILDREN! “News you can use,” soon appeared. Through the 1990’s Americans ignored “unimportant” news from the rest of the world. That ignorance, rather than correcting on September 11 2001, instead cauterized as ignorant flag waving, Chevy buying, rube-driven nationalism. The Baby Boomer president told us to go shopping, them wrote a check for $10 trillion on an unnecessary war, then blamed a Black Boomer president for having the highest debt in history.
It was all a purposeful roadmap prescribed within the 1971 Powell memo. The memo, by Lewis F. Powell Jr, former corporate attorney and later SCOTUS appointee under Nixon, laid out a recommendation that corporations needed to control the media, the government and education in the country as a matter of priority and power. The WW 2, Boomer and Gen X Republicans have followed that roadmap to the letter.
So yes, Catherine, the Republicans to own Santa Claus!
However, the reality is, tomorrow is a mystery and a crap shoot, and how we get there is anyone’s guess. It is complex and international in scope, a planetary tug of war with a thousand ropes, many of which change sides in dizzying frequency. Each generation comes to its own layered lessons and ignorance equally. The thing is, following World War 2, started by a previous generation Nazi, whose was stopped by that same generation, the capacity for really screwing things up was exponentially increased. A hand full of weapons, invented by Depression era leaders, from the E=MC2 equation of a turn of the century scientist, could essentially erase humanity. WW 2 era teachers instructed Boomer kids to duck and cover beneath their desks in the event of a Nuclear war. WAIT. WHAT?
Here in America, Black Boomers fought for Civil Rights, joined by White Boomers, and opposed by White boomers. They w ere fighting for rights ascribed in a constitution by revolution generation men who also wrote that Blacks were 3/5th a person. The Civil Rights Boomers Gen X-ers grew up cajoled by Alex P. Keaton characters on television, and dumbed down by truly insipid programs like Alf. They helped teach a generation partly abandoned by parents simplistic and reactive lessons on relationships. A divorce culture, woven inside a consumer culture underscored that family and relationship commitment is as transient as corporate charters and contracts.
Boomer hippies abandoned Vietnam-era activism for the boardroom, or checked out. Generation X-ers faired no better, and in some cases worse. Paul Ryan is Generation X. Generation X and Millenials were the masses strengthening the Occupy movement. They also abandoned the Occupy movement, while the Boomer-driven Tea Party movement helped propel Trump to office. It was Boomers and Gen X-ers, by the way who strategically sought to crush the revolutionary spirit of millenials towards Boomer presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. I have witnessed two genocides leaving millennials scarred or as orphans. We can only wonder how that will resonate with millenials to the benefit or detriment to succeeding generations.
The bottom line, every generation has its blessings and short falls. The problem is that regardless of generation, we are all being coaxed into binary thinking, which has long been the legacy of every generation. Ultimately that is a measure of the quality of information we receive, but also a measure of our desire to understand what is happening in the world. That isn’t easy, but then nothing essential ever is. Learn that you, regardless of generation, are being manipulated, and that includes pitting generations against one another so that the focus is on blaming fellow victims rather than the real perpetrators. Because here is the deal, a millennial may blame some aspect of the world on Boomers, but Boomers are absolutely bitching about millennials, and Gen X-ers are getting pounded from both each time they complain about being overlooked!