Friday, June 22, 2012

What Happened to Gen X?

What happened to Gen X and frankly, late Baby Boomers?

Why are we, this generation that came of age in the 1980s, just so plain mean?
I wonder if we have been jilted, scared, and over stimulated the last 30+ years.

It has been 30 years since I graduated high school, 32 years since Reagan's policies changed civility in public discourse. What is it with these late 40s, early 50s men who are poised to ruin generations.  Some things need to go back.

Case in point, the extreme bullying of the 68 year old grandmother on the bus yesterday by a bunch of middle school kids.  I would have been punished beyond the ability to sit down if I even thought to say those things to an elder.  I never would have and my classmates never would have either.  We grew up in a time of yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am, and calling adults by their last name, and staying in a child's place - outside on our bikes!

Another is the complete and utter destruction of our economy by a bunch of bully boomer men who just refuse to believe that we, the post Civil Rights generation, would actually elect a black president. That we could move forward as a nation for health care reform and rights, quality education for ALL citizens, and equality of marriage for all people, you would think that we learned something from the bloody marches, intimidation, and strife of the 1960s.

I wonder if this generation has become too comfortable?  Do we blame the mothers who went to work when the corporate doors were open wide (and frankly, when white women were the biggest beneficiary of affirmative action programs) and garages went from one car to two to three?  Do we blame 9-11 that shook us to the core and still scares us that we have handed over our civil liberties when the ones we need to fear are at a bank on Wall Street?  Do we truly believe that the uber wealthy will trickle down their wealth while at the same time they want to cut the minimum wage to $4.25 for teens?  What happened?

When I close my eyes and think back over the last 30 years, I pine for the simple joy of summer bike riding, swimming, coming home to grown ups at home, daddy home at 5pm, and the knowledge that school would start and all of us would be challenged to be our best, that we were more alike than different.  When adults were respected and children were raised with values that meant more than empty religious utterances to score political points.

I have listened to a generation who overspent on credit cards, purchased homes that would fit the entire block when I was growing up, and scared beyond measure.  I'm tired, perhaps I am living my age, but I am tired of parents being friends with their kids and not raising them. I'm tired of politicians pitting poor urban dwellers against poor rural dwellers with their threats of closing prisons (for profit ones in downstate Illinois), the charges that if only we elected the right party, unemployment would go down when the ones who could create the jobs are sitting there like fat cats with record breaking profits and CEO salaries, tired of the attacks against school teachers, and frankly all public employees who ensure our trash is picked up, fire fighters can put out a fire and rescue a cat, and the high quality education that drives the high property taxes in my neighborhood, enough, just enough.  I am tired of the men in my vagina (and not my husband) who want to legislate everything related to female health but not create jobs and not be fair in pay. What happened to these guys?

There is a glimmer of hope.  I am noticing more and more people of all colors and ethnic groups waking up from a collective sleep.  They realize they believed a lie about the trickle down, the fearmongering of one group against the other, and the corporation-as-person was not to their benefit.  Wealth has been destroyed, more so for black and latino households, an entire generation of college kids are graduating with debt that forces them to put off starting life for a decade or more.  I'm noticing more and more people speaking up and out against the attacks against women, the working poor, blacks, and latinos.  There is a glimmer of hope.  Perhaps the rest of the Gen X, late Boomers (born in the 1960s) are the ones to make a change and fix what's wrong before it's too late.

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