"’It’s just been moved forward a few years to accommodate boomers’ delusion of eternal youth.’
“…I don't think it's fair to say the above [as] a blanket statement. I, personally, do not have a delusion of eternal youth, nor do any of my friends or acquaintances…
”I also wanted to comment on that ‘silent generation.’ From my own experience with the over 65 age group, I'd have to say there's an element of truth in their definition. That's how society was - the male made most, if not all, of the family decisions. The women stayed home to raise the family. Many had no clue how to even balance a checkbook.
“But this "silence" didn't extend to all members of that generation. Just as not all baby boomers are caught up in the delusion of eternal youth. But I do also feel it was this baby boomer generation that refused to be silenced in our society...for good or bad.” [emphasis added]
Possibly, I'm guilty of of sloppy writing in that last sentence of mine that Terri quotes at the top of her comment, but every other word in my post makes it clear that I am talking about the media treatment of boomers and not boomers themselves - although I certainly know as many boomers intent on trying to live young until they die as I do others like Terri.
Terri points out that all generalities are unfair. But so is misinformation, as Maria of Silver Fox Whispers rightly notes in another comment on yesterday's post. Terri's statement that “…it was this baby boomer generation that refused to be silenced in our society…” flies in the face of historical record.
The oldest boomers were barely teenagers when the turmoil of the 1960s changed the social direction of the United States for - as Terri puts it - “good or bad”. In fact, most boomers were still children or not born yet when the groundwork for that upheaval was laid and the protests begun.
It was the “silent generation” who led the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war protests and the women’s movement. Here are some of the people, off the top of my head, whose courage and action pointed the direction of even my (born 1941) small efforts in these protests:
- Martin Luther King, Jr.: born 1929
- Rosa Parks: born 1913
- Thurgood Marshall: born 1908
- Muhammad Ali: born 1942
- Michael Schwerner: born 1939
- James Cheney: born 1943
- Andrew Goodman: born 1943
- Abbie Hoffman: born 1936
- Dave Dellinger: born 1915
- Tom Hayden: born 1939
- Betty Friedan: born 1921
- Gloria Steinem: born 1934
- Bella Abzug: born 1920
Boomers - uninformed media and individuals alike - have been grabbing credit for the Sixties for decades, but it was the misnamed silent generation who “refused to be silenced” in that remarkable moment of social change in U.S. history. Our efforts resulted in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, equal rights for women and brought down a president who would not listen to the will of the people about a misguided war that killed more than 58,000 American soldiers. I’m proud of my part in it and I won’t have it snatched away.
The boomer penchant for claiming ownership of the Sixties is a example of the law the unintended consequences. Because that generation is publicized and written about to the exclusion of others and because they were young then, those whose grasp of history is shaky (including boomers themselves) have come to believe in that erroneous ownership. It is a myth of twisted history.
The new aggrandizement of boomers as the leading edge of aging in America to the exclusion of those who are older is is beginning to create another set of unintended consequences - pitting generations against one another. Terri's post is a small example.
The president tried it too when, in 2005, when he goaded younger people to support his campaign to privatize Social Security by telling them old people will deplete the Trust Fund before they become old enough to benefit. Politics by age division didn’t work last year, but it wasn’t a pretty spectacle and it might work next time.
When one generation is consistently granted headline privilege resulting in the invisibility of others, mistrust and resentment build. Soon, each age group looks out only for itself, it becomes every man for himself and coalitions important to the benefit of all become difficult to create.
It is doubtful the media - or individuals - mean to set off generational warfare when they favor one group. They are only practicing lazy journalism, following a media trend by feeding off one another’s stories. But depending on what is at stake, the consequences are real.
The current administration in Washington shows no signs of curtailing its irresponsible war-spending binge or ending tax cuts which together are building an astronomical deficit that someone has to pay off in the decades to come. Should sanity ever return to the federal budget, there will be hard work to do, hard fiscal choices to make. All generations will need to give in, give back and give up things, and we can’t be bickering among ourselves as we make those necessary and difficult choices.
We are all in this together - the silent generation, baby boomers, generations X and Y, millennials and their kids coming up soon too. If the new ageism of boomer chic is not thwarted, those unintended consequences will bite us all, even the baby boomers.