Reprinted from 2012 President’s Blog.
Maybe it is because I am getting closer to another birthday, and/or I am deluding myself on some subliminal level. Nonetheless, I have been musing lately about the next generations of Americans and where they will lead us as a nation. Now, it might surprise some, but my ruminations do not directly center on the national deficit, the Affordable Healthcare Act, green industries, national security, or even 21st expected technological and medical innovations. Rather, my thoughts have been about the influential generation of Baby Boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, who helped shape the face of 20th Century America and gave birth to children who are shaping the 21st Century.
Yes, I am proud to be a member of the Baby Boomer generation; this pride is borne from personal accomplishments based on what could be termed as the traditional work ethic and altruistic values passed on to me by my southern and depression era parents–members of the Silent Generation. Yet, I begrudgingly admit that with all the social revolutions and life-changing products credited to the Boomers, some people might be able to argue convincingly that subsequent generations might experience a different America, unless the Boomers, and possibly Generation X participate in one more social revolution–the journey back to fortifying families, communities, and ultimately our nation.
As many of our wise parents once told us, “too much of anything is not good for you.” Television came of age with the Baby Boomers–or vice versa. Families soon gathered around the seemingly innocuous invention for hours to gain news about their neighbors near and far and to be entertained by an array of stories. The journey from the Soaps to the current mass marketing on steroids happened at a stealthy light speed and can hardly be viewed as a subtle change.
The 1940’s World War II era Rosie the Riveter poster (“We Can Do It)” soon morphed into televised and Internet commercialized portrayals informing us about what we needed for a good life–large houses, expensive (and well-made) cars, extravagant vacations, stainless steel appliances, and more and more shiny things. Gold was topped by platinum, and “we” turned into “me.” Soon the shift in emphasis from we to me even became apparent, and evinced itself in our grammatical constructions, as we even today hear educated people proclaim, “Me and Joe went…” (me first) instead of “Joe and I went…” (letting others go first).
OK… You get the message.
So where do we go from here? Can we get back to the collaboration of “we” and “us“? As we Boomers retire and check off items on our relentlessly nagging “bucket lists,” maybe we will take time to employ our skills to help solve some social issues such as closing the achievement gap, investing in green technologies, or broadening the awareness of the Millennials, Generations X, Y, and Z on things that really matter… How do we get back to “we” and “us“?
After all, the world has not seen anything like us before, and we have been known to make substantive changes!