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Posts Tagged ‘Social history’

I’m not talking about technology today.  Today I’m talking about social history, triggered by something I read that made me angry. This is personal and anecdotal but it’s a topic that I’ve give some thought to over the years.

Today, the Washington Post posted an opinion piece by Dana Milbank called “The Weakest Generation?”  Please some time to read it, it’s worth taking in his point of view.  In it he talks about his parents attending the Great March on Washington and he quotes his father as saying, “’ When people talk about Martin Luther King, that’s my connection. It’s a small connection — no handshake or anything — but I’m proud to have been there.’”

This piece is the conceit of the most privileged of the baby boom generation filtered through one who embraced their self rewarding worldview.

His thesis is both wrong and insulting. How can he say of his, of *my*, “[w]e grew up soft: unthreatened, unchallenged and uninspired. We lacked a cause greater than self.” Isn’t that the same charge leveled at his parents’ generation by *their* parents. He’s internalized Boomer bullshit and regurgitated in this editorial.

Curating and passing on history has always been the dominion of the elite and the Boomer generation is no exception. Those who tell the tales Milbank takes as truth were able to go to college and had the free time to attend events like the Great March on Washington.  When they got out of college they went into positions that afforded them to freedom to write about their experiences as though they were nearly universal and to filter the experiences of others through their lens.

Like all older generations, they would have us believe that they made a lasting, positive difference in the world.  Well, that’s true for every generation. Whether it is a World War, Civil War, assassinations, financial upheaval, or fights for voting rights, every generation has had those historical movements and moments that marked its soul and shaped its legacy.

Let me put this into perspective for you: Boomers had a good time at Woodstock, my generation had a good time at Live Aid and contributed to a serious cause.  (And, for the record, his father is no more connected to Martin Luther King, Jr than I am to Madonna just because I was in JFK stadium that blazing hot day.)

They had the BC pill freeing them to enjoy a level of sexual freedom and be open and public about it. When most of us were beginning our sexual lives, AIDS was the ugly specter peering over our shoulder.

Boomers were raised, for the most part, in an age of prosperity and relative financial security. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you were much more likely to have had 2 working parents, or divorced parents, or live in blended families. or live through periods where a parent was laid off from their job.

When we were kids, having enough gas to power our cars became a serious, tangible issue.

After September 11, 2001, we may have been told to go shopping, but I also remember in the weeks after, men of all ages *volunteering* to go into the military. I remember all of the people who volunteered to help rebuild New Orleans and those who showed up to assist at my beloved Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.

No, Mr. Milbank, is mistaken if he thinks our generation is untested by trial…[and] squandering American greatness by turning routine give-and-take into warfare”. As every other generation, we have our challenges and we, like any every other generation, have risen to those challenges. Sometimes only partially, often imperfectly, but we rise and will continue to do so.

And you know something, so will the Millennials, who are coming right up behind us, and their children and grandchildren and every successive generation.

Shame on Dana Milbank, shame on him for foisting his weak, biased version of social history off on us.

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