Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Generations

I am an American. I was born to a white Anglo-Saxon father and a Jewish mother. My father was born in the late 30's as the bullets began to fly in Europe, my mother a few years later as the Nazi extermination of the Jews began. Neither parent is formally a baby boomer, yet all of us live in a time dominated by that dominant demographic.

Those born in 1946-7, are now turning sixty. They spent their formative years, the years of their childhood memories, the time of their ideals, during the Fifties. That post-war period, in America has been termed the Era of Good Feeling. It was a time of prosperity and tranquility for the victors of World War II. It was a time where adults who had lived through the suffering of the war, survived the war, cherished conservative values. It was the time portrayed by "Happy Days." While the baby boomers absorbed the ideals of those happy days, they took that childhood state for granted. They came to believe that prosperity and tranquility were a given. They sought to leave the stogy cardigans and family values of their parents behind. With prosperity and peace a given, they believed that they were free to explore their moral limits.

As the boomers reached their sexual maturity and early adulthood, the culture of the 60's and 70's was born. Irresponsible, sexually free, and experimental- in short, 20 something. Next, the boomer's naturally obeyed their biological instincts and most had families. Thus, with the boomer's feeding their families, the 80's and 90's, the prime of life for the boomers, show a reversal, a reborn work ethic, a lust for competition, and ultimately a resurgent American prosperity.

Although the boomers threw off their irresponsible and free booting ways, they retained their naive Idealism. The Era of Good feeling, whose conservatism they rejected, but in whose unrealistic optimism they had steeped, left them with a sense of invulnerability. The American baby boomer has a Superman complex. We see the fruits of this in American politics today.

Today's leaders are baby boomers. The hardships and horrors of the second World War which produced conservatism in their parents are unknown to them. They have grown in world economically fertilized by World War II and its aftermath. This is a world shaped, designed, and built by the victors of World War II. This is a post-World War II world. The baby boomers can not perceive this over-arching reality, precisely because they are its fruits and its product.

We see the resultant blindness in the leadership of both the Left and the Right today. The hubris of Nancy Pelosi's absurd mission to Syria is akin to the hubris of the neo-conservatives overhauling the politics of the middle East with 100,000 American troops in Iraq (right idea arrogantly implemented).

We have entered World War III. Some count the cold war as the third war. I disagree. When the history is written, the cold war will be seen as merely an aftershock of WWII; a dangerous detente with the same chess pieces still on the board. This World War III is no detente. It is a fight to the death with a fascist ideological enemy more brutal, more worldwide, and more virulent, than Freedom has yet encountered. There is a new standard of ruthlessness being brought to bear by our enemies.

Unfortunately for freedom loving Western democracies, our leadership has a congenital blindness for real existential danger. There was no such thing in there Era of Good Feeling, their childhood, and thus, there is no such thing now. Even 9/11 produced only a transient whisper of conservative caution. Unfortunately, with blase' leadership in our midst, the west requires a much deeper wound to awaken. Unfortunately, that wound is not yet come, perhaps intentionally withheld by the enemy. Unfortunately, at this historical crossroad, we stand on the cusp of uncontrolled, unstable worldwide Nuclear proliferation.

The high school student of my own generation were still taught the story of World War II in some detail. The narrative was of how the world powers appeased an evil war-like dictator and paid a terrible price for their naivete'. They taught us of ordinary Germans who, unbelievably, were able to go about their business while hundreds of thousands of Jews were incinerated nearby. The mind of a teenager grasps these things dimly. They are the surreal obsessions of an old man. Yet, for me at least, these narratives always prompted a question or two. Why are they so keen to teach me this stuff? Why do they think I need to know about appeasement and world powers? I thought, we live in the USA and are the strongest. This stuff is merely a curiosity. Or so any young mind can easily believe.

Today it is clear what the Greatest Generation had on its mind with that curriculum. Perhaps because my formative years were spent not during the Era of Good Feeling but during the cold war, I can now understand why they were so keen to teach me that stuff. Perhaps because I learned to think at a time when nuclear Armageddon was a realistic possibility, I am able to sense the true danger the West now faces.

The forgoing is my answer to a serious question. How can Nancy Pelosi retrace Neville Chamberlain's humiliated steps so exactly? How is it that every day brings a new story of appeasement? How is it that Europe and its new friends in the United nations are again on the verge of scapegoating the Jews? I can not believe that power lust by the Democrats and Socialists could allow such careless, foolish, and immoral politic. I believe it is the baby boomers blind spot.


Winston said...

I agree. Without the perspective of what could be, humans believe that what they know is a right.

The hard won freedoms enjoyed by baby-boomers is an obvious example. Give a man a car and he will enjoy it, make a man earn the money to purchase that car and he will enjoy it and treasure it as a symbol of effort and desire.

Americans are myopic in general with the assumption that the world is not a dynamic place. We have become defensive in nature, not focusing on our general improvement and the gains productivity garners. We instead lament any loss in jobs and stature to others as unfair and theft. We are a man with a hole in the boat, when the bilge pump fails we focus on the pump manufacturer rather than bailing by hand as the boat sinks around us......we have become fatalistic.....we lack inspiration and hope

Dr.Charlemagne said...

i like the boat analogy