The Baby Boomers Changed The World.
What Will America Be When They Are Gone?
I was in college when I first heard a rap record. That song, Rapper's Delight signaled the end of the Soul Generation. The hip hop generation was upon us. And at the same time, two guys named Gates and Jobs were about to open the minds of the world with the simple notion that everyone could own a computer.
It was the end of the influence of the 1960's, the end of conventional wisdom and the end of spiritual morality's dominance over earth-bound behavior.
Boomers were heading toward the last mile.
In my neighborhood, they were the men and women who fought for civil rights and could do a handshake for a full thirty seconds. They defied their parents and dared to suggest that free love was better than abstinence and they challenged what they believed to be the hypocrisy of their parents, The Greatest Generation.
We can all agree that the 1960's were the defining decade of pre-millennium America. Hell, I wrote a novel using it as a backdrop (shameless plug) But I don't think we fully realized how the Boomers freed us and hobbled us at the same time.
In the 1950's, young people began to reject the last influences of Victorian America. it signaled a sea change in the social and political structure of our country. Suddenly, kids challenged everything, the voice of music, the worth of money, the place of women, the equality of others and even the existence of God.
In the end, they changed this country and probably, the world.
But the mistake of the revolution was the idea that none of what was formerly believed in was good. Free love spawned, disposable relationships and a spiraling divorce rate and the destruction of the family. Aggressive individualism created The Me Generation and bolstered the notion that greed is good and money is everything. And the questioning of God opened the door to those who have perverted the very cause of religion and brotherly love.
The Boomers were great for America but they forgot the basic rule of freedom in this nation. The U.S. was founded by progressive/liberals and conservative/religious men and women. The mixture was always volatile but inevitably balanced by reason, self-preservation and faith. We even survived the ultimate family squabble: a civil war. Always the twin notions of freedom won out. We moved society forward but with a strong foundation in our beliefs and family.
So what will we do when the Boomers are gone? The leaders of tomorrow will have grown up with technology that seemed like magic a generation ago. They have come to age in broken or blended families that belied the promises of religious fidelity. And they will have a cynical self-awareness that buffers vision and imagination.
I used to worry about this but I think the next gen, the pure hip hop generation, will find a way to win and keep America great. Within their culture are the same progressive and conservative powers that lifted us above other nations. Sure, Lady Ga Ga and The Jersey Shore seem like the end of the world but there is also innovation like Facebook and indications that young people will create a new kind of family where there is love and bonds that give positive foundation.
We must remember the lesson of the baby boomers: Progress is good but without structure and humanity, it destroys morality which in turn destroys society. And we must always look to the past but we cannot live in it or we create narrow minds and stagnate freedom.
So long Boomers.
I'll see you on the other side.