Hi, I’m Rob Greaves.
This is the forty-eighth posting in this on-going, and totally ad hoc column, called “Ruminations From My Verandah” and it’s the first for 2018.
So here I am sitting on my verandah, I don’t have a glass of wine or beer in my hand like usual, but mind you, it is only 2pm. On the other hand my doctor has told me to cut down on alcohol, sugar and fats, and ingest more fibre, fruit and exercise more.
This reminds me, that I’m not the young man I keep thinking I am.
Yes, I’m a Baby Boomer, born in 1946 and I’m now a Baby Boomer in his seventies! For all that is holy, seventy plus years of age is supposedly when you are old!
I’m not old, I’m a Baby Boomer. We ruled over many decades, we were the trendsetters, then we were the innovators, then we were the social consciences. We were the Baby Boomers – invulnerable. Able to indulge in all forms of alcohol and drug taking, able to party until after dawn, we were in our own minds “god’s”.
Now? Well, let’s try and form an opinion.
I think we were also most excellent at fooling ourselves. Now this is not to say that in general the Baby Boomers not only left their mark on the planet and society strongly, but certainly created both magic and a mess.
Under the “magic”, you can count the challenge to what was seen as traditional values. Boomers not just questioned the attitudes and values of the generations before them, but largely ignored them and rewrote them. Don’t underestimate the critical nature of this. taken for granted now and in subsequent generations, it just wasn’t done before the Boomers.
Our generation sought to break through traditional religion, to embrace the wider Eastern religions, to become far more philosophically based than their parents and grandparents. We grabbed control of popular music and developed it and spread it further and faster than could ever be imagined.
We embraced early technology and then became the front runners in developing it out, being largely responsible for the explosion in developing computers and the internet.
We embraced civil rights and fertilised the off-shoots with women’s liberation, sexual liberation and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples across the world. We were certainly the first generation to express serious distrust of governments and to express strong beliefs in the rights of the individual.
We also embraced drugs in many forms, although needs to be acknowledged it was the generations that followed that largely went for the more “harmful” drugs. Drug taking by the Boomers was sometimes a passage of rite, it was a social activity, it was a means of trying to discover one’s inner self. For many, it was kept at this level, but for others it was not a means to an end – it became the end!
So that leads nicely into the other side of the coin – the “mess?
The Baby Boomers were and to a large degree still are, totally indulgent. Now others generations will not agree, but Boomers see themselves a special generation!
Their fixation on indulgence meant they over indulged their children so that the next generation, Gen X, grew up largely with little structure and few boundaries. That generation can rightly be described variously as, slackers, cynical, the “me” generation and largely disaffected but as well as, very entrepreneurial.
Because of their belief that they were “special”, it meant Boomers had a right to “things” which covered anything they wanted. They were also the first generation to run up massive personal and nationwide debt. They didn’t save, when they got money – they spent it!
As hard as it is to admit, the Boomer generation with few exceptions, largely ignored climate change and ecologic issues until other generations picked up the slack. Now the Boomers really never took much interest in social solidarity which manifested itself in following generations, in often quite distressing ways.
Actually, we really didn’t think until many decades had passed, about the future. I recall that wonderful line from the Who’s “My Generation”.
Hope I die before I get old”!
It said it all. Prior generations had almost lived by the White Anglo Saxon Protestant philosophy of, postponing pleasure. We wanted it all, we wanted it now, and we didn’t want to be around to deal with the consequences!
So there is much more that could be placed into either column, but sitting here with a now empty coffee cup, no I told my doctor caffe latte’s was something I would not give up, it was an interesting exercise for me to reflect back on my generation.
I have talked in other “Ruminations” about the “primacy” and “recency” effect – in essence people remember the first and last things they are told; and right now, I’m feeling a little let down, as it is mostly the last things I have written about my generation swirl around my head.
I think it’s fair to say that most of my Boomer friends, of which there are many, share a few similar beliefs consisting of all, or at least some, of the following.
We aren’t ready to roll over yet! We still have a bit to contribute! Our opinions count! Our music was the very best! Other generations ride on our backs. We had the best of all times! It was even a Baby Boomer that wrote one of the defining songs of our generation.
Ego, is not a dirty word!
But how long can we keep trading on the “Baby Boomers are the best”? I don’t know about those Boomers reading this, but little “bits” are starting to “fall off” me! There is no leaping about, at the best it’s a somewhat distinguished swagger, at the worst it’s a miserable “drag your body around”!
I realised the other day that almost whenever we get together, somewhere in the conversation we start talking about ailments, and what we can’t do and what the doc has prescribed.
We sometimes find ourselves indulging in lengthy discourses about the “good old days”
We stay at home more often and certain rarely if ever, party til dawn anymore. Yet, in our defense many of us are still entertaining, still playing music, still creating works of art – in the broadest sense from theatre productions, film, pottery, painting, craftwork and the like.
If we aren’t being creative, we can stick pack out a concert – oh yer . . . we really aren’t ready to roll over and go away!
Many of us volunteer in community groups or volunteer time helping others. Certainly quite a number of us are still working, maybe not full time, but working nonetheless!
Hell, I couldn’t imagine my mother and father doing half the things I still do with June or my friends.
The body might hurt more and more and there might be more stumbles than springs – but the Baby Boomer Generation is now embarking on yet another first.
We are the first generation to largely ignore the convention that in your seventies you are old, you should be acting your age and defer to the young!
Defer? Be old? Stuff that! I’m a Baby Boomer – Not an Oldie Boomer!