As you may or may not be aware, I am a Gen X-er. That means I was called a slacker by the Baby Boomers. And now, they are turning their attacks on you.
They attack your slang, never mind that they are the ones where everything was far out, or groovy. They attack your music, just like they did to mine. Granted, I like a lot of the music from that generation more than I like yours, but I wonder how they felt when their parents attacked their music? They attack your attention spans (which aren’t as low as they think, because you are able to multi-task) at the same time they demand more and more multi-tasking at the companies they run in order to keep low numbers of workers on the payroll. They claim you are stupid, but fail to realize you are learning things in eighth grade they didn’t have to learn in university.
You are arguably the most informed, compassionate, connected generation. The world is counting on you.
Now, I am not saying the Boomers have done nothing good. We all know they fought to allow a lot of the things we all do to happen.
But that’s just it. They fought. Past tense. And when their leaders were killed, things got too hard, or they just got a taste of power…they quit.
They fought for civil rights, yet then decided to incarcerate minorities in unprecedented numbers using a drug war unfairly targeted at minorities (acknowledging they didn’t start that trend, just embraced it). They pushed for mandatory minimums that allowed people with drugs to go to prison longer than convicted rapists. They targeted their drug raids in minority neighborhoods, despite knowing that drug use and sales passed racial and economic barriers. They participated in an organized assault on minorities, and have not let up.
They fought for women’s equality, yet shamed young women for thinking about policy instead of symbolism. They attacked you for not revering their chosen masters to the point of seeing them as infallible. They have always been about the leaders. About the symbols. It is what has led so many to falsely declare racism is over because we have a black President.
The Boomer generation is the generation of quitters. They were seen as even more idealistic than you are. But they gave up. Time and time again, they gave up, and became the very thing they fought against. That’s all they know how to do.
Well, that and attack other generations. In the 60’s, they attacked their parent’s generation. In the 90’s they attacked mine (despite the fact they raised us), and now they are coming down on you.
Of course, this isn’t every single person in my parent’s generation. This is not every Boomer. Some of them still try. Some of them genuinely want a more just society. In fact, I think these non generation generation markers are absurd. But since so many take pride in their generation, and rip into yours, I think maybe a little reflection back on them is a good thing. If you want to criticize entire generations, I think you have a case to be made that they might be the worst.
They have maintained or increased pollution, they have increased income inequality, they have allowed racism to persist in an institutional way, and are now part of the overt racism we see coming hard back into view.
They squandered the greatest economy ever seen in this nation and handed you a mess to try to clean up. They have made George Bush leaving the Great Recession (depression) to Barack Obama look like nothing more than handing someone a torn paper and glue. You have inherited a dirty world, a mass extinction, an oligarchy, a terrible economy, and loads and loads of debt. You have been given unresolved strife among people. Strife they fought hard against before joining the rank and file. And now they claim that you are soft? Now they come after you? Your generation with more promise than any generation before? Your generation that really hasn’t yet had the chance to fix things? How dare you question them!
So, my dear millennial(s), I have a favor to ask you.
Get pissed. Fight back. Make your vision a reality, and unlike the Boomers, do not quit. Embrace your allies, and take the world you are going to have to run soon anyway. Send the Boomers into retirement, and work to make the world you want a reality. Prove that not every movement needs a leader. Become your own leader. Prove that you are not interested in heroes and symbols. Be your own hero. You have what it takes. Your generation is more intelligent, informed, and compassionate than they could ever hope to be. Prove the Boomers wrong and show you do have the work ethic to get it done.
Maybe just think about listening to better music. 🙂
An Old Fogy Gen X-er.
Maybe you didn’t start the fire Boomers, but you sure as hell added fuel.
Featured Image by Dan Bennett from Seattle, USA (DSC_2046 Uploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons