Monday, October 27, 2008
The Baby-Boomer Conundrum
We were born following the end of World War II and a few years following the end of the Korean Conflict. When married and unmarried couples were finally reunited after months or years of separation nature took its course. BOY! did the "Greatest Generation" procreate!! None of us Boomers could have stopped this, so that's why there are so many of us. Life was simpler and full of promise in those years, so our parents kept on making little tax-deductions. As for our generation's procreation, it was effectively curtailed by two, major paradigm shifts. One was the Women's Movement which insisted that no woman needed to marry and have babies to be complete. She could find fulfillment in the corporate world, once she had battled and over-come sexual stereo-types. We started wearing pants suits and stopped wearing bras. The struggle for equal pay for equal work is not over yet, but we opened peoples' eyes to the injustice. At the same time, women fought against women in ideology wars. We lost the middle-ground. The second shift was more pandemic. Child-bearing became anti-social because of a world-wide population crisis. We took to heart the constantly repeated message that the Earth could not continue to sustain us if population growth didn't slow down. Birth control became a responsible choice to save the world. Others of us were unable to make babies because of medications given to our mothers that, much later, proved to be harmful to fetuses and genetics. Also, there was no thought given to the idea that alcohol, tobacco and caffeine consumption might harm a fetus, or anyone else for that matter. Health studies were aimed at men. Scientists didn't consider whether or not the results also applied to women, which we now know they don't. The associations between genders and generations was quite different when we were kids and young adults. Rebellion against the status quo took on new sincerity as we realized the Earth was a small, fragile planet and that our way of life was damaging it, perhaps irreparably. Forty years later, the situation is worse, but a certain amount of complacency seems to be hindering effective action. There have never been simple answers, but there ARE answers. I'm proud to say that a fellow Boomer, Al Gore, has almost single-handedly broken the back of complacency; forcing world leaders to reexamine their interests and roles in preserving our planet. I'm not looking for a pity party. Rather, I want to point out to our detractors that there are many things for which we are blamed that were/are out of our control. Baby Boomers are no better nor worse than any other generation. There are just more of us.