I belong to the generation that followed the boomers. No, not Generation X. That other generation. The small one that is considered boomer but really isn’t. We’re just the tail at best. We aren’t the ones that rebelled. As my high school history teacher said: We’re the nothing-happened generation.
There’s a lot of good to be said for the Baby Boomer generation. They changed the rules, making it possible for patients to get a second opinion, to have sex (and babies) outside of wedlock, to get women into management and politics and marathons. A lot of important things started before the boomers became old enough, but they were the first generation to live the change as teenagers or college students or young adults. I admire their chutzpah and appreciate their efforts. My “tail” generation, c. 1958 to 1966, just followed along and got the fruits of the “older kids'” labors.
Now they’re approaching retirement or have retired. They’re still in jeans and I see the contours of the next mark they’re going to set on society: Wine and rock-n-roll in nursing homes.
The boomers that have become CEOs, rich patriarchs, well-established, safe and settled, owning their own home (and members of my generation are in there, too) have also become the ones that don’t want to share or accept change that others want. Conservatism is not specific to boomers, however, but is just something that seems to be more and more common as we age. What’s not good is when conservatism is born out of fear of loss, rather than complacency or satisfaction.
The generations after the boomers did not rebel in the same way. Generation Jones (the “tail”), X and Y (the millennials) have their identities but did not protest loudly. My history teacher said what he said right after he said, “It’s all been done.” Somebody else had already fought. Somebody else had already protested. Somebody else had already demanded. Somebody else had already gotten the changes. So by the late 70’s/early 80’s, there wasn’t anything in our society that needed placards and megaphones.
There is now. There is a new protest generation: Generation Z. Like the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The ones who got fired up after they got fired upon. These kids haven’t backed down yet. They have the necessary staying power. They are rebeling and will continue to rebel. They have a good cause. They see that society has let them down and they want change. I am proud of them, I have faith in them, and their voices are necessary. I am impressed by their intelligence, their focus and their stamina. I recognize a generational change, one that will alter the 21st century, like the boomers altered the 20th, and I welcome it.
In a home or a garden you need to get rid of the clutter or the weeds so it won’t choke out healthy life. When a society gets too full of itself, has too many unhealthy laws or behaviors, the ones doing the tossing are the rebels. We need our next generation of rebels.