I’m the youngest of Gen X – children of the Baby Boomers, most of the Gen X are ten years my senior if not older.
When Nirvana ended up on a Classic Rock radio station something changed in me. I’m not part of the youth culture anymore. I’m not old – talk to me when I hit sixty. I have 25 years of pure prime life ready to enjoy. Most folks get to the dirty 30’s and they freak out.
Hold on dumbasses – let’s count them 30 years. Fifteen of which you don’t remember as well as the other fifteen so get it right you’re more like 15 years of age since you pulled your head far out enough to notice the world around you and make memories you actually reference on a regular basis.
Now I still sport the same cultural enemy as those following behind me.
The Baby Boomers – oh yes they are the great evil that those before me and those after me are all dealing with them and the legacy they are leaving behind. I don't really think they are evil I'm just looking at what they are leaving behind...
A lot of that legacy is not great. There is always a worry when the youth look at the old and try to figure out where they fit and where they can go forward. There is a consistent fear I’m finding in the music that’s come out and I’ve actually listened to in the past decade.
Don’t Look ahead there’s stormy weather
Another road block in our way
But if we go, we go together
Our hands are tied here if we stay
Oh, we said our dreams will carry us
And if they don’t fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out
How to win what they all lost
- from Disparate Youth, on the album Master of Make-believe, by Santigold,
There is a fear of that legacy.
Let’s look at one bad example. Already the Boomers are staying in jobs much longer than planned leaving little rise for us right behind them. Reliance on cheap disposable products and energy is still a large issue. Embedded legacy industry and reluctance to innovate in longer lasting products over short term gains is still a big issue. Look at the crash and the impact of the auto-industry’s heart attack.
Thousands of jobs lots and bailouts from governments, none of which was good.
Instead of pumping each other with bonuses, those execs and shareholders should have put aside some more cash on getting off oil and into renewable sources of fuel and energy. Imagine one of those companies – even better imagine more than one company; Toyato, Honda, Ford, GM, Aston Martin, BMW, etc… pre-paired and ready to launch a renewable energy car the moment gas prices jumped in the 90’s and again in the 2000’s. Factories would still be pumping cars, just different cars. Jobs would have been generated as the factories would be re-worked for the new products. The auto industry would have changed along with the world instead of being a crumbling pillar in our economic foundation.
That’s a shitty example. Sadly it’s not changing fast enough to keep up. The current auto industry looks like it’s in good shape because of the regular dialysis of money to keep factories pumping. Just ignore the black toes and diabetic swollen legs. The industry is using a walker with some regular therapy – all in hopes to live a while longer as it falls apart.
There is a need for change and the auto industry is not one of them. Hamilton’s steel plants, Mid-West US Farmers, Japanese tech giants – these are all examples of the shit.
We’re the keepers
While we sleep in America
Our house is burning down
Our house is burning
- from Keepers, on the album Master of Make-believe, by Santigold
Yet we didn’t get all poop.
We can’t blame everything wrong in the world on those before us. Some of those issues stem simply from being human.
What did the baby boomers leave me that’s worth the effort to keep or work on?
Well using Mad Men as an example of turmoil from the Boomers early days you’ll have seen some changes.
Women’s rights – a work in progress but it’s getting better. It’s still shit but it’s better and I hope is getting better. I won’t just hope, I’ll make my voice heard. I want Lillian, Sophie, and Emma (all wee ones of the Bears) to stand shoulder to shoulder in every aspect with their brothers Charlie, Noah, Jacob, Mason.
I never want my friend Yasha to be treated differently simply because he’s got a darker skin tone. This guy is poster for what a person can accomplish if they work for it. You want to beat up on Yasha because he’s black – well sir that’s a poor choice:
1. He’s a lifer and Veteran in the Canadian Armed Forces
2. He’s got a some third degree of a black belt in some martial art – no biggy
3. He’s got a crew of smart fuckers that have little time for monsters
You wana knock on this door – fine, come get some.
"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"
- from Dante’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto III, Line 9
That translates quickly into or "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
So race issues are still an issue but they are better. I’ve stood proudly on the same parade square as Yasha. I’ve been in the woods with him. I’ve trained soldiers with him and plenty of others who are not simply ‘white’. Ontos – his grandfather was a member of the coaching staff for the Toronto Argonauts and his skin was the colour of the night sky. Wolf is half Cree, a trait he and my father share. Race is still an issue and it's come back to haunt us. It is improving - but it still needs lots of work.
Those two things are works in progress and they are growing to become better.
The best thing that’s come from the Baby Boomers is the value of knowledge.
The best example is the internet – that thing you’re using to read this. There is such a value on information, education, and pure understanding for every person that it makes those who came before the boomers look like cavemen. The dark ages no longer look like a step back – it looks like a sin against the human race. We place value to the wonder and creative output towards the various Renaissances: multiple European renaissances, Al-nhada, the Harlem renaissance, Tamil renaissance as examples.
We crave knowledge because like the sugar content that’s risen in North American foods has been given to everyone and we love it.
So I’m sitting here a bit older looking back and look forward at the two roads of Robert Frost and I’m thinking fuck it. Don’t let the past dictate our options, don’t let those behind us decide where to end our journey.
Pick the Third Road – make it better.
Why should the road less traveled be better than the road that is worn with use? Make both roads better and make more roads. Don’t just trudge through the woods and create a path for those to follow make a clear option and make that road with those who join you. Not follow – join you, walk with you, beside you.
I’m growing up and I’m not afraid of it. I’m not afraid of age, it’s happening. I don’t want to stop it – that’s a mentality from the Boomers. I want to be better and I’m going to try to be better.
I want to live and I want to die. (not right away if possible - thanks)
I want to leave the world in a better shape than I got it.
I want all who come behind me to have it better and I want them to do the same for those behind them.
I want to human race to become better.