Monday, July 04, 2016

Were Baby Boomers Really the Worst?

Many people are looking fondly back to 1950s and want to re-create them. I caution them against doing that. If you re-create 1950s, you will re-create the conditions that led to 1960s; which means that you will be met with something like 1960s down the road in one or another form.

It is said that the people who fail to learn from experience are doomed to repeat it. The people who see 1960s as an anomaly have not studied history. The Romantic Era that followed Enlightenment and the early 20th century that followed Victorianism both carried many of the themes that took place in 1960s. The 1960s do not have a monopoly on these themes. It wasn't the first time that they were tried, nor will they be the last.

I attended a private Anglican school on a full scholarship. I was a star student for some time, then I started acting like a 1960s teenager. This was highly disturbing to some in the administration. They thought that the baby boomers were a bad crop, and that only they behaved that way. They were wrong. Not many people in my generation took the route of the baby boomers. The young people these days, however, have a lot in common with the baby boomers of that time. They are passionate about big issues, they take a strong stance against corruption and oppression, and many of them are attracted to the same beliefs to which the baby boomers were attracted when they were younger.

I get tired of people attacking the people who had been a part of the 1960s. I've known a number of them, and I was impressed with what I found. I want these people to have a legacy that lasts after they are gone.

Many people want the World War II generation to have a strong legacy; and that is fine. There was much good about that generation; but let us not be under any illusion that they were all that gen-Xers think them to be. I've known any number of baby boomers whose World War II generation parents raped them or murdered their siblings. It was also the people in that generation that were attracted to ideologies such as Nazism. They were strong and hard-working; they were also brutal and authoritarian. These qualities win wars; they also start them.

Were baby boomers, as many gen-Xers claim, the worst generation? They include Steven Jobs, Colin Powell, Jane Fonda, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Woodward and any number of other admirable individuals. Some of them were bad parents; but some were excellent parents. I am good friends with a baby boomer who has raised three very healthy and highly successful children, one of whom started a multi-billion-dollar company. He has kept true to the 1960s ideals while becoming a successful entrepreneur; and in his retirement he has created, from his own resources, a huge political information website to inform the voters about the candidates that they will face.

He is not the only admirable baby boomer I know. I know a woman who has been a teacher, a journalist, an MD and an editor of a bestseller by a premier American scientist, and who is presently fighting corruption in the medical system while being a successful entrepreneur. I know another woman who was a headmistress of a private school for 30 years and turned it from a place where bullying and abuse was common to a much more humane, and highly respected, institution. I know eminent professors, brilliant psychologists, and first-rate artists who are baby boomers. Maybe the gen-Xers who hate baby boomers do not know these people; I however do.

So no, 1960s was not an anomaly, and baby boomers are not the scum of the earth that gen-Xers regard them to be. There is much that is right about both. If social conservatives try to re-create 1950s, they have not learned their lesson from history. They will be met with the same themes that took place in 1960s. And that hardly works in their best interests.


Post a Comment

<< Home