Values and Adversity: Boomers vs. ME Generation

Stan Goldberg, PhD

At a party the other day I had a conversation with a friend who is my age (69) about our children’s generation and those who came afterward. I’m told the newest is the ME generation. I enjoy my children and their friends. I respect their values, yet something is missing.

THE NEED TO REBEL

I lived in a small town in the eastern part of Pennsylvania until I was a teenager. At fifteen, I did a hundred and eighty degree turn away from almost everything my parents and their friends believed in. It began with religion, went through cultural values, and even involved the foods I ate.

I expected my children to be as rebellious, but my biggest fear was they would become avid bowlers. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, nor did either of them take up the accordion, become cruel to others, smoke cigarettes, or do too many drugs.

They embodied my wife’s and my most important values. They also understand the importance of history and respect my past. But their understanding and that of their generation comes from reading, not experience. I think a major difference between the boomer generation and subsequent ones has to do with experiencing adversity.

ADVERSITY

In the 70’s there was the Vietnam war, were many men my age had to make two major decisions: the moral value of the war and what we would do if drafted. Issues of equal rights also involved two decisions. The first was the willingness to proclaim race shouldn’t be a factor in who is allowed to vote, hold office, be successful, or have the same opportunities as all other Americans. The second was whether or not you would do something actionable about it. The march from Selma to Montgomery isn’t the equivalent in a Spring break trip to Mexico.

I don’t wish adversity into the social lives of my children and their generation. But I don’t think people have significant insights into their life sitting on a beach in Maui having a rum and coke.

 

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