A Letter To My Parents’ Generation
The Baby Boomers have had the luxury of being the wealthiest and largest demographic in history. They were born during the post-war era, a time of unprecedented economic prosperity for America. Many of them had rich childhoods and were the products of parents who were all too eager to spoil them. As they grew into adolescence, they became the freedom fighters of the 60’s who dared to challenge the establishment and everything it stood for. But now as they enter their retirement years, many boomers have become the polar opposite of what they were in their youth.
To understand their dramatic shift in attitude, let’s look at the journey that caused many of the boomers lose their way. During their younger years, they rebelled against the ideals and institutions of their parents. They often collectively referred to those values and institutions as “The Man.” They saw “The Man” as representative of everything they disdained. So they supported the struggle for civil rights, the fight for sexual liberation, and protested a war that they felt was unjust, among other noble causes. The young boomers were the poster children of idealism.
But when they entered young adulthood, something changed… They started entering the workforce and began to move from the college world into the working world. With that entry came their first stable paychecks, which meant access to economic independence. However, the boomers had unknowingly reached a crucial turning point – they went from protesting against “The Man” to working for him. But many of them didn’t seem to notice as they were too preoccupied with building their lives and indulging in the fruits that their newly acquired incomes afforded them, like buying that new home in the suburbs, or that shiny new car to go in the driveway, and raising their families. But while all this was happening, social activism had taken a back seat because they simply didn’t have time for it anymore. Some would argue that they just grew up. However, I prefer to call it for what it really is - selling out.
Of course, they certainly can’t be faulted for wanting to have a piece of the American dream and provide a high standard of living for their families. However, the fact that they sold out their values in the process is something that they CAN be faulted for.
Over the next few decades, the boomers advanced in their jobs and climbed the corporate ladder until they eventually became the ones in charge. That was where their generation reached yet another crucial turning point. They were no longer just working for “The Man,” they BECAME him. And so the boomers have now come around full circle. They have become the very thing that they spent their youth protesting. This is why it’s hard for me to take them seriously when they talk about having moral values.
So where did the baby boomers lose their way? I’d say around the time when they decided that earning a paycheck was more important than fighting for social justice. But in the interest of not generalizing an entire group, I am well aware that there are many boomers who did stick to their principles and didn’t sell out. Unfortunately, it seems that those individuals are in the minority.
And now we come to the most important question: what lessons can the millennials and other future generations learn from the bommers’ mistakes? For starters, we can learn that once we achieve prosperity, we must never allow ourselves to become complacent. Just because you’re finally able to buy that house in the nice neighborhood, and that brand new SUV to go with it, doesn’t mean you can now sit back and relax. The fight to protect the dream of prosperity for future generations is one that requires eternal vigilance and doesn’t stop once we’ve gotten our piece of the pie. Once we fall victim to the “I got mine so to Hell with everyone else” mentality, that’s when we become part of the problem. The only thing I fear more for my generation more than us ending up less fortunate than our parents is if we turn out to be exactly like them.
Additionally, if we are to be true leaders, then we must be prepared to accept responsibility for everything that will happen under our generation’s stewardship, whether good or bad. Today we find ourselves rebelling against “The Man” much the same as the Boomers did in their youth. But one thing we must remember is that while we may despise the institutions that our parents currently control simply because they do not yet reflect our values, one day they will. Eventually, we will become those institutions and we’ll have the opportunity to mold them to reflect our attitudes. But when that day arrives, can we avoid making the same mistake that the boomers made – becoming “The Man?”
If we leave the world a better place than what we were given, when it is time us for to pass the torch, then good. However, if the opposite turns out to be the reality then we must take credit for that as well. We must do so knowing that we alone are responsible. Not our parents, not our children, but US.
- The Young Overviewer
Original Source: http://wp.me/p5NVgj-u