Back in 1964 an activist named Jack Weinberg coined the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. Today we can see not just an echo of that, but a resounding clamor of today’s youth’s distrust, even hatred, of Jack and his generation.
Just put in a Google search for the hatred of the Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964) by almost anyone and you’ll find a large number of articles about this pro and con. One such summarizes the hatred/discontent as “their [Boomers] political choices that have now led to lack of jobs for the current generations around the world and their inability to buy a house, a growing climate crisis, rising depression and anxiety among young people, poor healthcare facilities, rampant gun violence in schools and even their ostrich-like response to coronavirus. Many Boomer-run offices can easily allow employees to work from home in the gig economy until this pandemic is over, but they simply won’t. Young people are now telling them that their time, more specifically, the time of their ideas, is over, and they should stop trying to run the world.”
This hatred reaches its Zenith or Nadir in describing Covid 19 with the phrase “Boomer Remover”.
Do we have a lot to be remorseful for? Of course we do. Politically we have watched the rise of divisions that are no longer based on facts, but solely on ideology. We have witnessed a breakdown of families that now see far too many children raised in single parent homes without the financial and emotional support necessary for healthy growth. We have seen the destruction of the environment in pursuit of development. We have silently watched genocide in civil wars in both Europe and Africa. The list of our sins is as long as anyone wants to make it.
Generation gaps are as old as recorded history. The United States owes its birth to the discontent of younger colonists with the ruling, older, members of the reigning British class. Of course, we Boomers acted out vociferously and too often violently against our parents who survived the Great Depression and fought the evil of the Axis in World War II. I think we can easily identify with the Millennials and others who bear the resentment and hatred toward us. But, is it justified?
Let me suggest that for all our faults, it may be argued that we Boomers have been the most progressive generation of all time, both socially and environmentally. For all our faults, I would ask the hating Millennials to consider who fought the civil rights battles of the sixties that gave birth to the movements of not just BLM, but the gay rights drive as well. We survived the Cold War, we rejected the American imperialist experiment in Vietnam, we also passed on many liberal ideals through music, art and culture. In many ways the Boomers were far were more radical in their beliefs and drive for change than any of the generations that followed us. For better or worse, I would note such radicals,the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, the American Indian Movement, Students for a Democratic Society who spawned the Weathermen to name just a few.
For all our faults I might ask who provided the ideas and funding for the technological and digital breakthroughs that fuel the internet, Twitter, Facebook, etc. that are the lifeblood of Millennials? Who has provided the prosperity that now allows countless youth to attend college and universities? Who started all the environmental movements like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, etc. that raised consciousness of the fragility of our planet?
I would maintain that most, if not all, of these were a direct product of the Boomers acting out during the turbulent 60s.
Even before the economic effects of Covid 19, Forbes pointed out “Post-Boomer generations have had to wrestle with issues not encountered by their parents and grandparents. Burdensome college debt that serves as a financial anchor, costly real estate, the high cost of insurance and the challenge of procuring well-paying jobs have all been anathema to Millennials. These and other issues have made their lives more difficult than their parents’ generation. Their fortunes will soon dramatically change for the better. They stand the chance to become one of the richest groups ever.”
Finally I would note that in their hatred for the Boomers, the Millennials, et al should remember that we Boomers are the possessors of an enormous amount of wealth because of our jobs, our investments in the rising stock market, and the rise in the value of our homes. The joy for the Millennials is that by 2030 they will inherit what is estimated to be $68 Trillion. This will be the largest transfer of wealth in history.
Yes, we Boomers should shake our collective heads at the world we are passing on to those who too often resent or hate us. I know I am in fear of what will be the future for my children and grandchildren. But also know that in spite of all the greed we gave birth to, all the mistakes we made, we also can look in the mirror and say that we did bring about change and did the best we could with the facts and tools we had at the time.
Also, Millennials, know that for almost all of us, our main drive was to make life better for you and to leave you with the financial and social rewards that might make your efforts more fruitful.