This is a very strange question. But I’m curious: what do you think your generation’s contribution, for good or for ill, has been to the world?
Perhaps this is an obsession only for those of us who came of age in the sixties, convinced we were changing the world, only to find that not only did we not change it as we had hoped, we planted as many bad seeds as good. But I think other generations must have some reflections on what they have done, as well.
I’d love to hear from any of you. We’re all called to meet certain circumstances, we somehow, as an age group, form an amorphous cultural critical mass, and we respond in a fashion that we neither understand nor control. Yet it is possible to say in retrospect that, yes, we were a cultural force and yes, we did move this world to a slightly different place than it was when we arrived on the scene.
It is a strange cultural phenomenon, understood only in retrospect, and then only dimly. But it is real.
Thoughts? From anyone?
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8 thoughts on “A Strange Question about generations”
Hi Kent. Great question! That’s a subject I could write page after page about. I’ll be brief as possible. I love that scene in “A River Runs Through It” where the dad in teaching writing to his son, keeps returning the essay to the son with the admonition to make it “shorter.”
As background information, I was a 1960’s idealist. I read Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey. I listened to Bob Dylan. I thought we could change the world.
My eyes were opened big time in 1972. I worked for the McGovern campaign in Kansas City and was a big supporter of his candidacy. Here was a chance to change the direction in which America was headed. McGovern was a war hero, an ordained minister, a college professor, and above all, a man of peace. By the time the Republicans finished with him, he lost every state in union in the election except for Massachusetts. America missed out on a great opportunity to put ourselves on a more humane, more sensible, more caring, more peace loving, and more spiritual path. As Peter Fonda opines in “Easy Rider”…”We blew it.”
The right-wingers of course were thrilled with their 1972 success and saw how wonderfully their attacks and flag waving campaigns worked on their behalf. We see this strategy used still on a daily basis. No reason with tamper with success.
I see our generation’s contributions as being very positive in a lot of ways. Our institutions of higher learning remain untainted by the attacks upon them. There are still voices of reason, like yours, to be heard, digested, and enjoyed.
But ultimately, the landscape is covered by missed opportunities. Looking back, we were too passive and too peaceful. We allowed louder voices to drown us out and to capture the heartland of America. “The Greening of America” did not happen. The tambourine man played for us in vain.
But we can’t give up on our country or on ourselves. All we can do is use the forums that we have to share our vision of the way things should be. When elections are stolen, we voice our outrage. When we invade other countries under false premises, we scream as loudly as we can.
Personally I am through being intimidated by the Bushites and Limbaughs of this world. I will say what I think. I will use the forums avaiable to me to express my views. I will vote against those clowns every chance I get.
Kent, keep up the great work! We need more voices like you in America.
Westwood Hills, Kansas
If you could meet your ancestors all standing in a row, Would you be proud of them or not or don’t you really know? Some strange discoveries are made in climbing family trees, And some of these you know do not particularly please.
If you could meet your ancestors all standing in a row, There might be some of them perhaps you would not care to know. But there is another question which presents a different view, If you could meet ancestors
Would they be pround of YOU?
When I was over at Leech Lake, someone had this in their office. I asked for a copy of it. In the work that I do, I offen ask myself this question. Would they be pround of me?
Will the work that I have done for the last twenty years have a impact.
Maybe not to the whole society, but to my communities and to the communities that I work with. And yet maybe society may see a benifit.
What I do, I do for them, our Ancestors and our communities.
I just finished reading “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”. You have answered your own question. We will only be able to measure the historical effect of the 60s subcultures from the perspective of the future. Amidst all the craziness, a voice of awakening will be seen to have risen above the cacophany. Did the Lakota die to provide salvation to the settlers? Did 60s counterculture emerge to provide salvation to a later generation? These are both valid ideas. While the heathen in me rejects a supernatural basis for historical events, the results of these perceived phenomena are real and undeniable. American culture is assimilating the valuable lessons learned from its genocide of the natives. The 60s will stand as a testament to our own spiritual awakenings, real or imagined.
To paraphrase the Queen of England: History is not the record of things that happened. History is what we BELIEVE happened.
The past is just as unknowable as the future. We travel the road of time huddled in a small sedan, looking out the window and marvelling at the landscape. Does it know we are there? What do we believe?
It had taken me a lot to think about what my generation did for the entire world. Taking into consideration that I am quite young I would say that, speaking for the entire world, or at least for Europe, my generation stepped over a very powerful and bad form of government: dictatorship. That took in the Eastern Europe, but the West has its role. Well, it is true that it was the west that brought Eastern Europe under Russian domination, but we are even now. (Fresh flowers delivered, http://www.serenataflowers.com/petals/Fresh_flowers.htm)
I’m a boomer, born in ’52. My generation lived as if there were no generations following us. We doubled the population. We multiplied the number of cars. We built thousands of WalMarts, tens of thousands of fast food restaurants, and many thousands of miles of freeways. We’re destroying the atmosphere, wiping out forests, emptying the oceans of fish, and moving billions of tons of topsoil into the sea. I am not proud of this.
No generation has ever done things all good and all bad, every new generation is better than older and worse than older in few aspects.im 25 and our generation is so much advance in technology, but on the other hand we r gradually forgetting kindness, good manners, courtesy and politeness.
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