For one thing, we didn’t elect the current president—at least not by popular vote. We brought the culture of weed to the suburbs, and now marijuana is legal in several states, and medical marijuana is legal even more places. Because there were so many young women in the seventies, attending colleges and conscious-raising meetings, we popularized feminism, pried open doors, smashed stereotypes. The #MeToo wave wouldn’t have been as tidal as it is if it weren’t for us.
I’m on this track because of a wave of new books and articles serving blame to us like a summons to stand before a jury charging us with selfishness. They have titles like The Theft of a Decade: How the Baby Boomers Stole the Millenials‘ Economic Future by Joseph Sternberg; Baby Boomers are Stealing Big Time from Millenials, an opinion piece by Chris Tomlinson; and how about this one: A Generation of Sociopaths: How Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Cannon Gibney.
Basically, it is the opinion of these young males that I am a sociopath. That means I am “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscious”: thank you, The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2001. This definition is from a real hard-copy book, currently resting on my lap under my laptop.
I could say that this might easily define the behaviors of the current president, and by the way, I didn’t vote for him.
I don’t own an oil company. I don’t own a coal mine. I don’t supervise a hedge fund or a trading floor. I don’t have 6 yachts. I didn’t by a house that I couldn’t afford. I give money to the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society. I marched in the Womens’ and Science marches. I am deeply skeptical of politicians, although I support the two female senators from my state—by the way, guys, as I mentioned above, there are more women in the senate than ever before. Wouldn’t have happened without us.
There’s a pathetic naivety to these opinions, fed by the bubble of experience in which most people live. I can pull out my “gray” card, cite my experience, dismiss this as whining, but I won’t do that. The world these kids are growing up in is exponentially different from the one I was in. I was born in the Fifties but my parents lived through World War II. There was a sense in the California suburbs where I grew up that there were no boundaries, the pie was ours—all of it. My parents’ generation had conquered evil in both the West and the East. The U.S A. was approaching a zenith in power, respect, leadership. Who wouldn’t go a little sociopathic over all this?
Then we won the Viet Nam “War”. Not in the sense that we beat the Viet Cong and got them to sign a peace treaty. Which never happened, by the way. Only in the sense that we turned the opinion of the country against a political quagmire dug from mis-guided, paranoic politics. Remember Dick Nixon? Anybody?
And Civil Rights. desegregation of the South, a thing that the white folks in power there can never forgive; there was that, and then the country elected a black president. Southern politicos from old school families have sworn in back rooms never to let that happen again. I would never say that baby boomers ushered in the Civil Rights movement. But we witnessed its success and its horrible failures. And the continuing failure to eradicate racism and bigotry. The millenials don’t seem capable of helping with that much.
From my lengthy bubble, I see all of these events woven into a colorful and chaotic web of history. But when I was twenty, I was able to finance my own college education because my parents couldn’t afford to. I got a profession and managed to live in an apartment by myself in San Francisco in the ’80’s. I was able to buy my own house in Seattle by 1991.
So, the pie was mine, sort of, and I can see that there’s not much left for younger generations. Just as millenials despise being grouped into the stereotypes they are grouped into, I despise being grouped into an even bigger pot of stereotypes. At the time of the Viet Nam War marches and protests, more Americans supported the war than not.
Just don’t drop me into the sociopathic mess. It’s not me. And I don’t think it’s you, either. What we need to do is show up and vote, although the One-Percent who are really to blame for this state of things are going to be a lot harder to get rid of.