50 years after the last baby boomer was born, those who lived in the age of Aquarius get a failing grade
Lately, I seem to find myself deep in thought about the twists and turns our society has taken from the original “me generation” to generation Y. In doing so, I find myself questioning my generation and our footprint on history. These thought patterns usually occur during my morning constitutional and continue on and off during the day.
It is during these lengthy sojourns that I sit and wonder where the train jumped off the tracks. My conclusion normally consists of the question, “What went wrong?” Let me explain why I keep reaching that conclusion when pondering the “age of Aquarius” (a moniker that is often stapled to my baby boomer generation). Never in the brief history of our society had there been such a sea of change in how things were perceived and how life was led as in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Throughout the ages, there have been drastic swings in language, almost instantaneous change in musical styles, abuses of the common hallucinogenic drugs at our disposal, subtle (and not so subtle) changes in the way children view and treat their elders, but not all at the same time and not all in such a very short time span. In my search for the answer, I keep trying to figure out just what it was that started the ball rolling.
Was it rock & roll? Was it the “sexual revolution”? Was it smoking dope? I hear from folks my parents’ age that it was those goddamn Beatles from England. One such octogenarian I overheard said “DDT was legal back then. We should have used it on those derelict young cockroaches from Liverpool.” (Just a brief note on that thought; someone did decide to use DDT back then; only it was our own soldiers we used it on.)
No, I don’t think it was rock & roll, Elvis or the Beatles, etc. The “sexual revolution” happened as an unintended consequence from the rise of the drug culture which allowed young people the opportunity to try new things and push the limits of normal society.
There were a lot of things stirring the cauldron back then like the civil rights movement. We were in a shooting war on the Indochinese peninsula. There was the absence of a peace treaty in Korea. We were knee deep in the Cold War with daily “duck & cover” drills during school hours. And, some of our parents were constructing bomb shelters thinking a nuclear holocaust would be survivable.
It is no secret to those who know me that John Kennedy was possibly my least favorite president (and person for that matter). But having pondered long and hard I have the gut feeling, given what was going on all around us, the assassination of a President coupled with the assassination of the greatest civil rights leader ever, were the straws that broke the camel’s back.
With a cold war, a hot war, civil and political strife at home and a post WWII era of troubled nations and societies outside our borders, is it any wonder that we “turned on and tuned in”? The big problem here is that we did it in such large numbers that we “morphed” into a society that was so detached from who and what we were as a nation, that other things simply got left undone.
No one paid attention to the Military Industrial Complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about. No one paid any attention to ethics in the political arena that George McGovern warned us about. No one paid much attention to the rest of the world like Mo Udall and Jimmy Carter warned us about.
We just stopped listening. We turned a blind eye. The majority of those who listened to rock n’ roll, protested the government and fought for peace and civil rights traded in their protest signs for business suits.
We got wrapped up in the “me” generation and while we were sleeping, a few big business and big banking people took us to the cleaners. Why not? No one stood up and demanded better.
I give the end result an “F” for the age of Aquarius and the me generation. Wouldn’t you know it; we spawned a whole new Generation of little “mini-mes”, and look at where we are now.
This new crop of up and coming young folk have a lot going for them, and a lot going against them. If they can manage to step out of their “E-Life” for any reasonable amount of time, they will be able to solve some, if not most, of the problems that have been handed down to them over the years.
They can do it. They’re a lot smarter than us old folks. Hopefully they won’t have the storm of events swirling around them as we did, and they can take a much more involved approach to life.