It would seem that the lofty goals of our great grandparents, our grandparents, and those stationed somewhere between then and now have gone sadly awry.
There was a time when our ancestors of less than a century ago wanted nothing but a better life for the legacy of their bloodlines.
Granted, they were justified in wanting it as well. Just within the twentieth century and moving forward, our forefathers have endeavored to overcome the ravages of a financial depression, two world wars, and a host of other concerns which continued to threaten their way of life, and even their very lives.
As an older member of Generation X, I can safely declare that my generational contemporaries and I haven’t had the same concerns. There have been no worldwide wars which demanded my participation in order to preserve life, liberty, and the American way. There has been no rationing of dairy products. There have been no community drives for rubber or metal to aid in the war effort. I’ve never seen a campaign produced in my lifetime which encouraged me to buy war bonds.
America hasn’t seen an economic depression in my lifetime either. Certainly, we’ve seen a host of recessions which have cropped up every 10 years or so. None of those have approached the magnitude of the Great Depression though. None of those have made me smack my forehead in a flash of epiphany that I had it bad and I had to fix it for my kids.
That’s right, people. We haven’t really, really had to fight for our right to party.
Our baby boomer parents were probably the last generation to receive the gifts of a better, easier life from their parents under the motivation that things were pretty bad before.
Grandma and Grandpa fought and won a war, and survived a depression. Naturally they didn’t want their kids to fight the same hardships.
So what motivation did our parents have to give us a better life?
What about their time did Mom and Dad fight through with the hopes that we wouldn’t have to mess with it when we grew up?
One has to wonder if my generation will know how to get out of an ugly situation if one similar to those our grandparents endured ever presents itself.
There’s no doubt we have the technology to get through a war. My generation was the first one to master Pong and move on to something more capable of inducing an epileptic fit. We can play war and get high score with the best of them.
Could we handle a financial collapse? Don’t know. The collapse we had in 2007 was manufactured for political reasons if you ask me. The steps which were taken to *ahem* “fix” the problem was the brainchild born of a hybrid of baby boomers and Gen X-ers. That went well.
Our financial woes continued into what a lot of people considered to be the cusp of a depression. Additional steps were taken to *ahem* “solve the problem”. Sure the proponents of the plan say it’s put us on the track of recovery. Well I guess if you have to bust an egg to make an omelet, that’s okay. Throwing the chicken into the middle of a clandestine dogfight where it’s the main course is another story. Unemployment is worse, the average price of a gallon of gas is up $2 more than it was a few years ago, inflation is on the move, and this great country of ours continues to borrow and print money at dizzying levels.
Is it me, or is it possible that we’re right smack dab in the middle of one of those times in our lives where we don’t want to pass these circumstances on to our descendants?
Certainly, we are.
We just haven’t figured it out yet. If we had, we would have been able to appreciate a significant improvement from the 2007 collapse by now.
Don’t get me wrong, though. We’ve made some steps in the right direction. The 2010 mid-term election; aka “The Mother of all Opinion Polls” flipped control of several state legislatures, a bunch of governorships, and the US House of Representatives all for the primary reason that the electorate was of the strong opinion that we as a country were on the wrong track.
Getting us back on the right track is going to be a tough process. The impacts realized from the New Deal and the Great Society have used the age old trick of incrementalism to throw larger percentages of Americans into more reliance on government than ever before. Countless pieces of legislation passed over the years to fight the war on poverty have achieved the antithesis of their stated goals.
Allow me to break that down for you without using so many big words. Please be forewarned right now that there is a very graphic metaphor about my generation coming up in a few sentences.
Our great grandparents and their children had it tough.
They didn’t want us to have it tough, so they fought hard to give us a better life years down the road.
Their good intentions took away our will to fight hard for our own damn selves.
Gen X-ers are a bunch of pussies.
I used to think that about baby boomers. I had that opinion because it was their generation which gave us the counter culture hippy crap which moved away from the traditional American way of life and sought out to tear apart this country’s exceptionalism. *Authors note: I had to add the word ‘exceptionalism’ to my dictionary just now. I suspect the mentality of the previously discussed counter culture failed to enter the word into the dictionary of this software as a result of it’s flawed paradigm.
Sure, the boomers have the hippies, but not all of them subscribed to the counter culture mentality. When it comes down to it, it was probably the boomers that made us Gen X-ers a bunch of pussies.
Consider what the Gen X-ers have done. Our birthdays range from the mid 60’s (I’ll use 1965 for the sake of this discussion) to approximately 1982. That means we range in age from 30 to 46.
In our formative years, we played games either in PE or on the playground like Tag, Dodge Ball, Red Rover, Duck, Duck, Goose, and Smear the Queer. In our adulthood, we’ve moved to ban these games for safety reasons.
If we aren’t calling 911 because service at the fast food joint is subpar, we’re suing the hell out of them for making their coffee too hot for our crotch to handle.
In our formative years, we played t-ball with 9-10 players on the field, all of which were in a specific position dictated by baseball (plus a rover in the outfield). We moved on to play kid pitch baseball where we chattered at the batter all types of chants, hoots, and hollers. We implied the batter was off his rocker, just like Betty Crocker. We made suggestions that belly itchers didn’t make very good pitchers.
Today in our adult years, we put the entire team of 13 t-ballers on the field in a line that connects the diagonal between first and third base. In baseball, our kids can’t chatter at the batter while on defense. It’s considered poor sportsmanship.
In our formative years, the really good teams in any sport we played ran the score up on the bad teams all of the time. Today, that will get the coach of the winning team fired.
Did I mention we’re all pussies?
Back then, we didn’t have high dollar solutions to fix our bad behavior. Corporal punishment was a good tool in responding to the behavior, and sometimes served to be an effective deterrent.
Today, we haul the kid off to a therapist and prescribe medication for behavior which comes more as a result of parental imprinting than it does some contrived, bullshit diagnosis of a chemical imbalance.
In our formative years, we endured bullies and all of the crap they dealt out. Today, we were so deeply traumatized by the assholes of our past that we rally behind public figures like the First Lady in an effort to put an end to the practice.
Will someone tell me how our generation is going to get out of a real mess that involves something more critical than the slow delivery of a chicken dinner? When bad stuff happened to them, generations before us kicked some butt before taking names. We don’t consider doing the same thing now. Today, the expected order of operation involves taking names, fostering a dialogue, mirandizing them, granting amnesty, and requesting an endless slew of resolutions from United Nations Security Council.
Now if you’ve read this site with any frequency, your knee jerk reaction to the solutions I’m about to suggest will be that they’re politically motivated.
More power to you. My stridence to look at the big picture drives my ideology. It’s not the other way around.
TO: The World War I & World War II Generation
FROM: TharpSter, representing your kids
RE: The fruits of your labor
Dear Grandparents and Great Grandparents.
First of all, we’d like to thank you for all of the hard work you put in while you were with us. There is no doubt in our minds that the sacrifice you made to fulfill the commitments made to your descendants to give us a better life was a noble one.
It was a just one too.
For awhile, that is.
Today we either don’t have problems on the magnitude of your problems, or we don’t recognize them as such. We have no Aryan assholes residing in eastern Europe wrecking havoc on the world. Granted, there is a large segment of our country who wishes there was at least one so that everything could continue to be blamed on Whitey. That’s not to say there are no assholes bent on world domination though. Today’s crop are of Arabic descent and/or Muslim in their ideology. We put up with their crap anyway in order to avoid the appearance that we’re profiling based on race or creed.
Since your days on Earth, we’ve regulated the hell out of our financial system in an effort to avoid the pitfalls you encountered. For what it’s worth, some of the regulation works. The jury is still out on the rest of them. We still get recessions though.
So we’ve had a better life as a result of your efforts.
The problem now is that your efforts to push us in the right direction to move our collective existence into a fluffier state of nirvana has created a monster.
With all do respect, it would seem that you gave us enough fish to eat for a day without showing us how to go out and get some more.
We now stand at a point in time where more of us are dependent on the actions of the government than ever before. We have sizable debt that we will pass on to our kids. Even though we know this, we aren’t taking meaningful steps to fix the problem.
We have everything to lose, yet no gumption to fight for it.
Please understand that at this point, we understand what you wanted when you did what you did for us. In addition, please understand that we don’t lay the blame on you for the mess we’re in. Our generation is typically prone to practicing blame assessment in a manner which drops the dime on someone else. Just know that even though you took the initial steps to make our lives easier, the bulk of the thorn in our side is from the tree we planted.
Thank you for all of your efforts.
At this time, we’re well overdue in taking on the hardships you encountered in order to build our ability to git-r-done. If we don’t fix it now, generations subsequent to X are going to be more screwed up than we are.