Thursday, May 10, 2007

To my friend Roy-Smackdown of the Generations!

Hi Roy-
hmmmmm....Viceland. Interesting.

I did read the article about killing boomers. And the worthless,
self-absorbed generation.....bla bla bla
For starters, Bill Cosby's too old to be a boomer I think. But wait.
That's an aside.

Here's what I think. The whole process of framing discussions in terms
of 'generational groups' is bull&*%$. It allows for some simplistic
generalizations and cheap comparisons but it just isn't true beyond the
shallow level of a few demographics.

My (our) generation largely did not protest the War, drop acid, "tune
in, turn on, and drop out", etc. Most of them went to some rock
concerts, maybe smoked a joint once, and perhaps grew their hair out
for the summer until they had to go back to the job or school or
whatever. We also did not, largely, rush off to either sign up for
VietNam nor run away. We did not generally abandon our parents'
morals, we nudged them. We did respond, some of us, to the call to "Ask not
what your country can do for you..." A lot of us spoke in favor of the
idea of selflessness. Not many of us went off to change, or even
visit, the rest of the world.

I have children of the following ages: 28, 26,24, 20 and 17. I have
siblings as much as 16 years younger than I am---so just entering their
forties now. I have nephews and neices-20+ of them- who range in age
from eight to 36. There are ways in which the age groups seem to have
things in common- fashion ideas for example. But there are also big
ways in which the group stratifies by vertically by "like kinds" of
people separate from age. My daughter at 20 is very like me---intense,
curious, rebellious but purposeful, introspective, impatient, a
performer. My stepdaughter who is only three years younger at 17 is
intense, impatient, and a performer, but otherwise completely

I think the challenges in the world around us can be traced to people's
behavior but not because of their ages. I'd say attitude plays a much
bigger role. Materialism is the religion of choice for people of all
ages, and much of the world's trouble can be traced to the effects of
materialism. Compassion is a quality that can be found in people of
all ages-not enough- but my aging conservative parents are extremely
compassionate and share that ground with my nephew who served as a JET
in Sapporo for three years and my niece who is doing community work in
the South.

Simplification of complex issues is a tempting way to feel in control
of them, but it's an illusion. And toting up the pros and cons of the
'generations' is an example of that.
In my humble opinion-


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