Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baby Boomer guilt

As a representative of the Baby Boom Generation, I’m carrying a load of responsibility on my shoulders. In college I learned the pig-in-the-python explanation of the effect on society of the sudden increase in births that followed World War II. Society (the snake) swallows a pig (all those babies born after the War) and the pig creates a huge bulge that slowly moves through snake from beginning to end. That’s us--one big pig in one big snake, giving the snake indigestion for years. I know that I’m just one measly person in the big BBG, but I feel some personal responsibility, a compulsion to explain, perhaps even apologize for the digestive upheaval we caused.

Take global warming, for example. I know that there are a lot more people on the Earth than there were in 1945 and those people are consuming a lot more resources. But also consider this phenomenon--the women of the Baby Boom Generation are all reaching menopause at roughly the same time. I know these women, I am one of these women, and I know first-hand about hot flashes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rate of global warming has increased with the onset of hot flashes in this huge cohort of women. Someone should plot it out and make a case for the correlation. I wonder if Al Gore has considered hot flashes as a cause of global warming.

Another thing that I probably should take responsibility for is war. I tried, I really tried back in the 60s. I marched against the war in Vietnam. I supported our troops--I had friends there and I wanted them to stop fighting and come home. I didn’t care if we promoted democracy in Vietnam; I just didn’t want any more of my friends to die there. But I see the war in Vietnam as our fathers’ war, a war promoted by those who became men in the World War II era. The fathers who fought the “good war” had to send their sons to another war. However, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan belong to us baby boomers. George Bush and Lon Cheney had to have their own wars so they jumped at the opportunity. Lord knows I hate accepting responsibility for Bush and Cheney, but I’m taking responsibility for the whole generation. It’s a heavy load and it stinks.

Another part of the mess created by the baby boomers--a health care crisis. We’re getting old. We like our drugs, we need our drugs, and we demand all the expensive medical care that the system can provide. We’re costing society a bundle of money and we’re depleting the reserves in the Social Security system. We created a real mess, we didn’t know we’d live so long, never thought it would take us nearly 100 years to move through the snake. Sorry, kids. Sorry, grandbabies. I apologize for everything.

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