Hey Teacher, Don’t Leave Us Kids Alone
Why the hell is my generation so apathetic to our current political predicament? Or if it’s not apathy, it certainly is a sense of bewilderment as to what to do about it. We may not be living up to our slacker image in the realm of business, but we well deserve the title when it comes to political activism. Is this a result of the way we were raised?
Children of the 50s grew up within a culture where hard work was not only valued, but also rewarded. One wage earner households were the norm, which meant that if you worked hard, you could support yourself and a family and live mostly above the poverty line. And what did these hard-working, good old fashion American parents produce but children who saw a war that was unjustifiable and a system of segregation that should no longer be tolerated, so they got together, raised hell and demanded a fix. Things are much worse now than they were in the 60s, so where’s the outrage and more importantly, where’s the action?
The rabble-rousers of the 60s spawned the children of the 80s. These ex-hippies taught us that we were “free to be you and me” and that we were entitled to dignity simply because we were. It’s a great concept, but where’s the work ethic? If we are, by nature of being born, good and decent, shouldn’t we be handed everything we want? Why work for it when we can put it on plastic? This is the legacy of the 60s. You’ve raised a bunch of lazy ass kids who are content to skate by on the advances you made. Some of us are willing to fight in order to not lose ground, but advancing the movement, making great strides forward in the fight toward equality and economic justice is simply more than we’re willing to take on. The world should be good because we want it to be. We don’t know what to do when the reality doesn’t fit with our desire and it seems that wishing it into existence is all we’ve got to offer. Sorry to disappoint you, but our failure is your failure too.
So the question becomes, what do we do about it now? Clearly you hippies didn’t demand enough of us when we were young. You did a great job of instilling in us a sense of self-confidence (perhaps too good, we’re kind of an egotistical bunch), but you forgot to give us the tools we would need to carry on with the fight. It’s almost as if we were raised inside the bubble of your hopes and dreams. You brought us up as if the world was already the way you wanted it to be with the hope that we would be more tolerant and accepting than the generations before us, and for the most part we are. But we believed in the illusion to the point that we have become a little Pollyannaish in our outlook. The future through our rose-colored glasses still looks okay, making us a bit blind to the horrific reality in front of us. You can help us now by confiscating our glasses and demanding more from us. Challenge our complacency and force us to justify our inability to take action when it’s so clear that action is necessary.
We see you at the war protests, demonstrations and candle light vigils for peace. You’re still doing your part, but as long as you’re willing to bear the burden, we’re happy to let you. Instead of smiling at us, like you’re happy we showed up at all, why not demand to know what else we’re doing? Ask us the tough questions like, “Besides this, what else are you doing to further the cause?” and “Where are all of your friends?” or better yet “When are you going to get off your ass and run with the baton we have passed to you?” Most likely we won’t have an answer, but ask us again and we might feel compelled to have one ready in case we meet again.
Tell us you’re tired and could use a little help, we do care about our fellow man, that’s your legacy too, we just have to be spurred to action. And don’t be afraid to get a little rough, call us armchair liberals and point out that when we socialize with one another we must stop talking about our mortgages and investments and start discussing the issues of the day if we ever hope to reach the goal of a better America. Our hearts are in the right place and we believe in the world you started to create. We want the end result, a level playing field and social justice for all, we just didn’t know we were going to have to work to make it happen, we thought it was a done deal. Our bad.