Generations

I have a bit of a fever (getting over the flu), so pardon me in advance if this essay becomes rambling and strange.

I rarely read about the candidates for President, whether it be on the blogs or in the traditional media.

I stated elsewhere, in some essay or comment, that if I had my way these elections would be unlike any we’ve ever had.  They would be somber and there would be no cheering and funny hats and souvenirs.  They would be sober and sad, because we are going through terrible times.  There would be a gravity to the national discourse that wouldn’t allow any kind of show-biz breathlessness we’ve all seen too much of, nor the kind of cheerleader as supporter that has made many of us turn away from the dreaded “candidate diaries” at several progressive blogs.

I find it surreal that is not the case, even as I’m aware my view is only mine and there’s reasons why others wouldn’t feel that way.

I was surfing the NOLA blogs and found a post by “e” over at We Could Be Famous talking about something Andrew Sullivan said about Obama:

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America-finally-past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly-and uncomfortably-at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war-not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade-but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war-and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama-and Obama alone-offers the possibility of a truce.

The post at We Could Be Famous continued by talking about the Baby Boomers and how Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and many of the “Old Guard” leaders didn’t fit today’s times.

So that got me thinking about generations.

I remember when I was very young, around 13 or 14 I said to my mother, “you know, you might be exactly right that doing this-or-that will get me in trouble, will hurt me.  But I have to find this out for myself!”

I have never forgotten saying that.  As the youngest of six children I always promised myself I would never “talk down” to those younger than me.

So instead I talk down to those OLDER than me!  Ok, just kidding.

I have not always kept to that vow, because there’s nothing more horrible than seeing someone younger do something you know from your own experience is going to land them in nothing but trouble, and still keep your mouth shut.  Oh, that’s not easy.

But telling and experiencing are two different things.  So I do usually keep my mouth shut.

I am no fan of Andrew Sullivan, I think he is shallow.  But e’s post got me thinking about generations and my own feelings as someone of the prior generation.

So I figure, there’s two things here.

One is to let folks lead their own lives and make their own choices and trust they know what they are doing.  When it comes to the generations after mine, I try to be respectful of that and realize that I have no authority over them just because I’m older.  And the fact of my greater experience only comes in handy if I use that skillfully and share it rather than pound the kids over the head with it (which is also fun, but only if it’s a family member who’s used to it, heh).

And that leads me to the second thing — transmitting some continuity between the generations, which is everyone’s responsibility, young and old.

Many of us intuitively knew this when we were younger and we were drawn to older people to hear their stories.  Maybe it was because we were going through our own identity crises, maybe it was just intense curiosity, I dunno.

And there are older people who intuitively know how to transmit that information — as stories, not as lectures or scoldings.  I have played both roles and have not always been wrong in the latter characterization.

There are also both young people and older people who just don’t give a damn.  They just don’t.

But that’s ok as long as there’s a certain number who do.  Because when certain kinds of generational transitions occur, those generational transmissions are necessary, it’s time to build a continuity so that each generation has some sort of connection with the ones before and after.

I couldn’t say why that’s important because I’m too feverish, but even in my delerium, I know it is.

Bottom line — I have no fears that there are both plenty of older people and a whole hell of a lot of very groovy young people who will do this task at this present transformational time (lol lol on that word!).

And bottom bottom line to those young adults of today from the 18-40 age bracket:  I absolutely trust your judgment, intelligence and compassion.  Make your voice heard!

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  1. … at this moment, it’s not Friday Night at 8 but rather Friday Night at 6:58 EST.

    If someone could de- and then re-promote, that would be great.

    If not, I blame my fever and take no adult responsibility for this.

  2. I have found the dharma.  I too would like to see the younger set turnout.  They have much at stake in this election. And they can’t mess things up any worse than the boomers have.

    PS.  This is my first post and I hope I have not broken protocol.

  3. And I think the little dance from fp to here left your essay with no recommend button. That’s the shits.

    Anyway, I think there is definitely something afoot with this generational thing. And from what I’ve heard, I think the younger generation is much more aware of it that we baby boomers are.

    Last night at our book group we had a short discussion about the presidential primaries. Most of us are early 50’s to mid 60’s and we have one member who is in her 40’s. She mentioned she was supporting Obama and when we asked her why, she said it was a generational thing.

    I’ve also heard from some of our young African American employees at work that they see the generational divide between  Jackson/Sharpton and Obama.

    Part of what I hear is that the younger ones want a chance to try it a different way. Whether or not that’s Obama, I don’t know. But they want a chance. And since I’ve not seen anything that spectacular from the baby boomers in the last 20 years or so – I say give them a crack at it!

  4. … this essay is part of my weekly series, the infamous Friday Night at 8 but I forgot to put that in the title cause I’m feverish (sort of a cozy delerium in a strange way).

    And then I was going to edit the diary and put that in the title.

    And then I rebelled like a teenager because I just didn’t want to have to be that consistent all the time because the rules are such a drag and all.

    lol

    • Viet71 on January 19, 2008 at 2:38 am

    NPK,

    Eat good food (whole organic grains, fruits, and vegetables).

    Drink orange juice.

    Get plenty of sleep.

    Do regular exercise.

    You’ll feel fine.

  5. and with that experience alone I claim the transitional date of 1992.  After 1992 social engineering programs woven into the educational institutions sought to increase memes and methods to encourage “compliance” above character, compassion, survival and common sense, respect for older and wiser generations, well just about everything right.  It is only a minority of this generation which has gained the capacity to embrace the concepts of the secret government.

    • documel on January 19, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Sadly, I don’t trust the 18-40 year olds as much as you do.  They have grown up with bad media and bad social studies instruction.  Remember, this generation went to school when all subjects were less important than reading and math. My liberal son, living with big mouth me, says that R Reagan was a good president–heck–DC airport has his name.

    Elections should not be generational–the brass ring should go to the most competent–be it a man of 45 or a woman of 60.  I, too, wish we had no hoopla at political events, no slick advertising, no dirty tricks, and no innuendo.  Ain’t gonna happen.  The 18 year olds should vote–so should the 81 year old.  No one should make the decision based on age or gender or color.

    Democracy sucks–just less than other systems.  If the Rs had allowed checks and balances to work, they would have  impeached Bush for lying about Iraq.  Hopefully, 2008 is such a clean Dem sweep that the remaining Rs return to the land of the thinking–not blindly follow Rovian marching orders.

    • Edger on January 19, 2008 at 3:25 am

    SUPPOSED to talk down to younger people who also know everything and TELL them what do do?

    SO they can turn around and say:

    “you know, you might be exactly right that doing this-or-that will get me in trouble, will hurt me.  But I have to find this out for myself!”

    ? 🙂

    ok,ok,ok – I’ll shut up now… 😉

    • documel on January 19, 2008 at 3:43 am

    There are many strident right wingnuts 18-40 years old.  I’m a retired teacher, trust me, this generation has been poorly educated–and the media has not helped correct the shortcomings.

  6. to have made your brain float in the space of slight disconnect that is almost meditative. Your right I think, it’s harder to let go of vested preconception and old battles, old divides. Strange  my children who I tried brow beat into being radical lefties ended up making them yearn for mainstream. My grandaughter loves past history generational, but doesn’t have the same fear of the new or wish to fight the old politics, she sees with clarity the world she’ll inhabit as an adult and I trust her vision and grasp.      

  7. I’ve thought about this a lot.  I come to the same despairing conclusion. When I was 19 or 18 or 17 or 21-I did not care what someone 25 was thinking. I cared even less what someone 30 or 40 was thinking. They were on another planet–in a different universe that I did not inhabit. I was too cool for them.

    By the time I became old enough to realize that this type of thinking may have its logical loopholes, it was too late.  The damage was done. The thoughts were thunk. The attitudes were cemented.

    So I agree–I trust their judgment. Will their Judgment be the same as mine? In my dreams!

    • kj on January 19, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    delirium suits you, npk!  a moment came for me few weeks ago, after the Iowas caucus, something shifted into focus and i realized it was time to pass the baton backward. that doesn’t mean i’m not needed out here in front, but not as a torch bearer. and you know, i don’t care if this ‘moment’ or ‘change’ was skillfully orchastrated by a campaign wizard, it’s just simply time.

    i wanted the 2004 elections to be serious. “A serious man for a serious time” was my mantra for John Kerry. (a newpaper picked up the line and used it in their endorsement.) but that wasn’t to be, inspiration didn’t translated into a wave.  and waves are needed in times of transition. it’s the fastest way to move the body forward.

    that said, i understand documel’s point, too.  i’m watching my conservative nieces to see if they’re going to be swept up, i hope they are, it might be the only thing that moves them past their adherance to ‘compliance’ and provides them with the feeling of personal power.

  8. I just saw Nezua’s intro vlog for his MTV Street Team 08 gig. Click through to watch. I tried to embed, but it doesn’t work.  

  9. are just they are not static,  

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