I'm a baby boomer. The world seems fascinated with us, these days. Especially with baby boomer women. At every twist and turn, you find articles announcing we have no retirement plans, having relied on those of our hubands'. If not married, baby boomer women are depicted as scaredy cats afraid of numbers.
That could be me. How about you? I'm not proud of the fact that numbers intimidate me. I was never good in math. I can keep myself on a budget, mainly because my budget is pretty small and easily managed. And, I know the value of savings, as well as a good retirment plan. Yet, I don't have either, really.
When I read articles about "us", the baby boomer generation, I'm struck by the realities of our lives compared to the myths that continue to persist. For instance, the myth that we were all hippies, we all attended Woodstock, and we all smoked marijuana.
I don't know anyone else's truth but here's mine: I was never a hippie, though I dressed like one. I did not attend Woodstock and don't care. And, no, children, I never smoked marijuana, though many of my friends did. I was sure we were all going to be hauled off to jail and that no one would believe I hadn't smoked anything. But, that never happened.
The Atlantic Monthly has an article titled "The Least We Can Do" in its October issue, discussing the baby boomer generation, calling us, "Self-absorbed, self-indulged, and self-loathing."
I'm not sure who they're talking about, but I am sure it's not me. Yes, I have been self-absorbed - but it was so long ago I barely remember it. Having children took the "self" out of being absorbed. I do not ever remember being "self-indulged" although I am a clothes-hound, to this day. If that counts, then I guess I'm self-indulged, along with millions of other women - of all ages. As for self-loathing, doesn't everyone experience that at one time or another in their lives?
The article struck a nerve with me because it attempts to put all baby boomers into a box. We're all this or that. We're all from the same time period, generation, whathaveyou, but we're certainly not all from the same place. And, we're certainly not all part of the Woodstock mentality, which they ascribe to us. It's a mentality I've heard over and over; essentially, "Baby boomers rejected 'the man' and now they are the man."
Rather than continue to tell us what we did (or didn't do) and what we should now do (to redeem ourselves), perhaps the folks who would chronicle our history need only to look to the current and future generations. Did they not learn what they know from us? Are they not smart, responsible citizens, working to make life better for ... each other, their families, their country, the world - even their pets?
If there is to be a testament to the good or bad of our generation, and to the way we live out our lives as citizens of the U.S. and the world, it will come from our children and grandchildren. I am confident the kids growing up today will work things out better than we did. They're smarter, taller, curious, devoted to the earth (for the most part), and willing to take on responsibility - like the Grandma who has no retirement savings.
In the end, our impact on the U.S. will be as major or minor as the impact our kids make when they tackle the big issues - there will be some cheering and there will be some shouting. At ground level, it's as it has always been. The good and bad of a society is reflected in its treatment of children, the elderly, and pets. I think we boomers stand on solid ground when it comes to kids, our parents, and our pets.
But, what do I know? I'm just a boomer woman on a blog.