The waxing and waning of generational blame

Ashes to ashes2Hi readers     Thanks for coming by.

I don’t believe I ever doubted anytime during my 74 times around the sun that my parents and their generation experienced far more difficulties on average in life than did my own generation.    I’d go a step further and conjecture that in general all previous generations to mine tended to be more challenging to the folks living in them than my own as a genre experienced.

To me this doesn’t seem a subject of controversy .   More than likely the great majority of people who traveled that piece of time with me would agree.

But unless I’m mistaken, we’ve come to a place in history where convictions of that sort among the young no longer exist.    Everything I see of young people suggests to me they believe their generation actually doesn’t have it as ‘good’ as their parents or their grandparents.     As measured in almost everything they value.

In some ways I believe they are right.   The baby-boomers beginning during WWII in the United States were blessed with an affluence beyond anything that’s gone before in the entire history of mankind.   We lived in a time when the pantheon of individual choices ranged from entrepreneur, to beatnik, to hippy, to hitch-hiker to corporate climber.    Or any combination of those and countless others.

It wasn’t our fault.    We lived in a world in transition, born into a bubble of expectations and hope that allowed us a confidence we had no reason to doubt, but no business believing.     And because of that, while many of us merely submerged ourselves in numb mediocrity, a substantial piece of the whole went out and lived our lives in ways that left no doubt that life could be lived.

So what happened to convert the confidence and enthusiasm, the trust, of the 1950s, 1960s, and to some extent, the 1970s, to the slough of despond and hopelessness  that emerged among the youngsters in the 1990s and 2000s?

I don’t believe, despite their perceptions, that younger people have it more difficult than my generation.   In fact, in many ways they appear to have it sufficiently easier to qualify as appalling.    True, there aren’t a lot of manufacturing, skilled labor, whatever-middle-class-hell jobs were around back before everything went to the 3rd World.     And it isn’t clear how the current population of mediocrity will provide for themselves so’s to accumulate tons of appliances, entertainment, transportation, bass boats, clothing and cosmetic surgery.

But is that really a quality of life issue?    Isn’t it, rather, a challenge of personal values and priorities?

I’ll confess, reading posts of young people on FaceBook hasn’t given me much sympathy for them, hasn’t inspired much hope they’ll make the world a better place during their time here.     But then, when it comes down to it, neither did mine own generation.

Sure, a lot of people I knew were moderately-to-wildly successful at accumulating wealth.   A lot of them surpassed themselves in various ways far greater than anyone would have expected of them when we were kids.   And many of them handed everything to their kids with a silver spoon, spoiled them beyond recognition.    Indulged in precisely the same mindset as my generation’s parents who went through WWII and the great depression, determined that their children would have it easier than they, themselves had it.

But my generation had it so damned easy, making it even easier on those that followed might qualify as a crime in a better world.   Might qualify as condemning our progeny to expectations that bear almost no relationship to anything related to happiness, fulfillment, or genuine satisfaction.

This isn’t the first generation in the history of man where many have been reduced to the moral and economic equivalent of flipping burgers to earn a living.    The simple fact is, the affluence derived from a minimum wage 21st Century job would have been coveted by so many of our ancestors so far back we’d lose count trying to identify them.

“We’ is a terrible word.    It pretends there’s some group of individuals who share some accomplishment, some responsibility, some abstraction.    Something that happened on our watch.

And the fact is, there isn’t any such we.      I’ve lived a life of 74 years and I didn’t have a damned thing to do with anything that happened during my time on this planet.   Not a single damned thing.

And I honestly can’t say I’ve been in personal contact with anyone who did.    The people who made things happen, who drove the events of my lifetime might as well have existed in comic books, movies, television shows and epic poems.   Because I sure as hell never encountered one.

Jeese, what a life.    What a ride this has been.   What a phony, sexy, drug-induced hallucination.

Old Jules

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7 responses to “The waxing and waning of generational blame

  1. Well Jules I have been here a little more then 75 years, and I have seem the things you spoke of. I agree with you on our kids got it better then we had it, but I had girls. They didn’t wind up in the Army over seas and come back to the jeers of the people that really didn’t understand what it was all about. Some things never leave you mind like I don’t understand what I was doing there.. I lucked out when I got back and got a good job as an Electrician and retired with a pension and Medical Insurance. I don’t see my kids with a pension or Medical Insurance or any way to retire early as I did so maybe they don’t have it as good as I had it. So I guess it’s a draw or maybe I didn’t do so good raising them.

    • Over 75? Do you happen to recall whether your parents had medical insurance? Mine didn’t. I never saw a dentist until I went into the Army. When our family saw a doctor it was to try to save one of our hogs, or maybe get a shot the school required. But I was speaking in general…. and my experience is all I have to try to speak in generalities. As for the Army, I’ll be writing some more on that during the next few days because of the lauded ‘Vietnam Veterans Day’ March 29 that got established last year. Gracias, Old Jules

  2. Drive on, it don’t mean nuthin’…………….great piece bro!

  3. ‘I didn’t have a damned thing to do with anything that happened during my time on this planet.’ Really Jules? I’d assumed you were one of the US movers and shakers in the paradigm shift that was the sixties.
    Sexism & racism attacked for the evil they were, anti-war sentiments expressed in the streets where before the masses cheered and banged drums. The racist law outlawing the most useful herb on the planet, cannabis sativa, ignored and fought over, I was right there in the middle of it in London [UK], an anti-war activist & organiser, and later an LSD maker, then prisoner. We changed everything; music, clothing, hair, attitudes, and rethought the Western capitalist way of exploiting people and planet for ever more wealth, many adopting or inventing communal ways of sharing and living lightly on the planet; inventing ways to get energy from the wind, experimenting with new ways of being in the world.
    ‘There was music in the cafes at night, revolution in the air’ to quote our poet Bob.
    That the world ignored it and kept on its path celebrating death and destruction wasn’t for want of trying on our part. America particularly has a death worshipping culture, as William Burroughs has pointed out many times, and an arms industry which controls politics. Perhaps we were naive!

    • There was that, indeed. Sex, drugs and rock and roll in the name of a higher cause. It’s become obvious to me by hindsight that the righteous indignation in my case included a lot of dishonesty and self-aggrandizing cheap thrills. The rush a person gets being on the right side, crusading against evil, throwing rocks at cops in the name of fighting war and injustice seems to me these days to contain an element of irony I wasn’t candid enough with myself to recognize back in the day. Good observations though. Maybe some of those other radicals used to get stoned with and plan for the revolution in between screwing and listening to Led Zeppelin. Old Jules

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