Saturday, January 17, 2009

THE BABY BOOMER LEGACY


Many have said that the election of Barack Obama represents the end of the era
of the baby-boomer generation. I beg to differ. In fact, the election of Obama is the fulfillment of the baby boomer generation.

As we pass the torch of power, boomers can feel a sense of redemption when Obama takes the oath of office. In truth, our moment in history will be recorded as the one that most altered the course of history. Arising from the ashes of World War II, boomers literally rocked the world in the 60's and 70's. Rejecting the ideology of those who came before us, we declared that LOVE' is the answer to all of our questions. We institutionalized our historic commitment to equality for all. From civil rights to gender rights, we broke the back of hatred and bigotry. We said 'no' to separate but equal' and proclaimed that no topic is sacred and beyond question. We raised
the 'red flag’ on environmental destruction. We 'caught a glimpse' of the true nature of our relationship to each other and the world in which we live; but, our failing was that we became consumed by consumption.

As the 'age of technology' took hold we were fascinated by all things new. Gadgets and gizmos, a speeding lifestyle, and life on the go with fast food and fast cars were as enticing to us as it was reported to be to the Atlanteans of ancient lore. We thought we could do both; conspicuously consume and erase our sin by pushing for bottle bills. Money flowed like water from a garden hose as we were enticed to buy more, toss away, and then buy some more. Gold cards, Platinum cards, and equity lines of credit enabled us to spend double, triple our wages. And so what, government was doing it, why not us? To fight rising prices we sent our production to foreign workers who received pennies a day in sweat shops. As long as the gadgets and the credit kept flowing, we could ignore the cries of child labor in remote places of the world. Our money was the standard for the world and our military kept it that way. Mess with us and the newest technology and super weapons would set you straight.

But, in the deep recesses of our memory, we felt the growing pains of the seeds that we planted in the 60’s and 70’s. Something was not quite right. We were haunted by the memories of ‘love-ins,’ the toppling of a president that had gotten out of control, civil rights marches and the recurring dream of Camelot. And even though the never really free market system continued its daily barrage on our senses to spend, spend, and spend – deep down inside – we began to question. What was with all of the new diseases? Why do our children not want to learn? What is happening to all of those species that once populated our lakes, forests and jungles? Why is the weather acting so strange? What is happening to our culture? Why are crime rates getting out of control? What is that spilled oil really doing to our environment? Are you sure those materials are safe? Who really did make that sweater? Where are all of the jobs going? Why is it getting more difficult to pay all of those credit cards?

Our peaceful but shaky world shattered on 9/11. Our attention and questioning was diverted and we rallied to fight the new enemy. But who where the enemy? We could not find them. In a state of fear and paranoia, we gave away freedoms, money and lives. And, as my good friend Marvin Wilson would say, Owen Fiddler came to town. It was time to pay the fiddler, the piper and the ferryman. Stretched beyond our means to a level that only the bankers knew and even encouraged, the money tree was chopped down. We all know the story; it plays out in the news every day. We, the “baby boomers,” brought ourselves to a state of collapse. We made thing so bad that only the most ignorant would say we could stay the course. Had all of this not happened, we would have awakened one morning to find that our ecosystem had collapsed and that there was nothing we could do to alter the continuation of the “Sixth Great Extinction” that would soon include the human species. By bringing our lifestyle to an abrupt halt, we had to take notice.

Barack Obama’s election was our crowning achievement. Not because he is some super human savior that will solve all of our problems, but because he represents the re-emergence and manifestation of the dreams of those aged ‘flower children.’ Because of our errors and our ignorance, we have allowed the Lady of the Lake to return Excalibur. Not to President Obama, but to us. But we are not yet finished. We must still lead our children to the Promised Land, even if many of us will not enter it. This is not in any religious sense, but rather in the sense that we must continue to teach and remind the new generations not to repeat our mistakes. This is our parting gift,our legacy; we have shown the world how not to live.

6 comments:

Marvin D. Wilson said...

“Barack Obama’s election was our crowning achievement.”

“… he represents the re-emergence and manifestation of the dreams of those aged ‘flower children.’”

I hope you are right. I don't believe it. Not yet. He's got a LOT to prove to me. Obama's flip-floppy-follow-the-yellow-brick-road campaign towards the White House left me feeling like here we go with the Manchurian Candidate - who's REALLY in power now? I'm scared, tell ya the truth.

But I appreciate the shout out, brother Phil, and I send out prayers and positive vibrations into the universe every second that you are RIGHT, that this "Black Man" first ever president of the USA is the "epitome" of what we Flower Children once stood for. God help us if it's a ruse.

Hey - you checked out my Hippie blog yet? http://tiedyedtirades.blogspot.com/

You'll find some comparisons to this post there.

NovelEagle said...

Between you and Marvin I'm confused. Let's see if I can figure this out. Flower Children were mostly born between 1940 and 1955. Baby Boomers between 1946 and 1964. Some of these became hippies and some became Republicans. Or was it that they were beatniks/hippies first then converted to conservative Republicans? So confusing. Especially since the "movements" [Civil Rights, Feminism etc] were spearheaded by Men and women born before The War - old "over thirty" women and men whose accomplishments got lost beneath a tidal wave of Youth Culture.
More confusing still is the fact that the "Women's Movement" was spearheaded by Lesbians who got bolled over by "Junior Leagers"and nearly pushed out of the fight all together.

Here's hoping that our new president will be able to squeeze out time to abolish "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I'll never forgive Bill for that one.

ConnectingTheDots said...

Well written piece, but Obama and others his age, like me, are not part of the Boomer generation. We were born during the demographic boom in births from 1946 to 1964, but we are certainly not part of the same cultural generation as the Boomers (Clinton, Gore, George W, etc.).
I was born in 1960. It’s long been obvious to me (and my same-aged friends) that we aren’t Boomers. I’m proud of my real generation and of the name that emerged for us: Generation Jones. Google the term “Generation Jones”, and you’ll see that it’s gained a big national following…it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from numerous top publications and networks (New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones.

ATTMPress said...

Most Boomers are confused Novel...so you must be one, like me!
I agree Connecting...I personally think that the boomer generation gets a cutoff in the fifties. I think your group is transitional-you bought into our paradigm but began to create another. The key is for the new generation to understand that they do not want to follow in our footsteps, but rather learn from us and take that 'less traveled road.'

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Generation Jones - I like that, Connecting.

Hey good points, Novel and ATTMPhil. Lets not forget the Beatniks either - those wonderful off-beat predecessors to the Hippie movement - Allen Ginsberg and the beat poets, the jazz scene - Hmmm, I'm getting the feeling another post is brewing (smile). Hey Phil - I'm gonna put this blog in the Tie Dyed Tirades blogroll - I think we should link these forums together.

Laurence said...

I agree Barack makes a nice bookmark end of a Babyboom era
It is that Obama seems to have derived the best lessons from the sixties and left some of the other not very useful baggage behind--and in doing so has united some of our childrens generation in the march towards a better future that the much criticized flower children etc helped spark.

I would like to add this blog to my blogroll on www. babyboomreview.com
and encourage you Phil and others to take part in a podcast I am producing on this point. Please email me bboomreview@gmail.com for more details
Larry