When I was born, we had cars, trucks, trains, radios, cameras, televisions......and that was about it! Oh yes, add typewriters to that list.
Today, much because of the ingenuity and hard work of baby boomers, we have computers, SUVs, DVDs, the internet, remotes, cable and satellite TV, microwave ovens, cell phones, digital recording devices, and a myriad of other products. Sure, younger generations have had their hand in many of these innovations, but I'll bet that a baby boomer was there to get the ball rolling.
We baby boomers got lots of balls rolling in our life times. Let's take environmental work.
Before our time, you had Rachel Carson, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Club. That was about it. Today, because of our efforts, you have environmental groups that organize in communities, in regions, states, the country and the world. Largely because of our good organizing, we saw a Republican president (Richard Nixon) sign the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. These laws have helped form a base line for much environmental battles that followed.
Our generation fought for civil rights, for women's rights, for Latino rights, for gay rights and disability rights. We also began efforts to bring other women and partners into labor rooms as women gave birth. Thanks to people like Ina May Gaskin and other shakers and movers at The Farm in Tennessee, the art of midwifery was revived, natural childbirth and the Lamaze Method of childbirth became once more goals among back to nature women and their friends.
Many baby boomers taught us to think for ourselves in matters of economic, social and environmental justice. We declared the Vietnam war as a farce, and eventually pressured our leaders to get out of that conflict that was based on an out-dated Cold War doctrine and its related Domino Theory.
Our generation didn't accept as gospel everything that our parents told us. For example, let's look at religion. Many of us came from a long line of Protestant, Catholic or Jewish families. Our moms and dads assumed that we would continue to follow that line. But our schools taught critical thinking. Many of us left the churches we were born into, and today you will find many of us who are agnostic, atheists, Eastern, or at least in another denomination from our parents.
Many baby boomers became two income families. As a rule, we had smaller families who lived outside the cities. Eventually many of us rediscovered the wonders of growing our own food, looking for fair trade and/or organic. We wondered where our food came from, who picked it, who sold it, what was done to it before it got to the produce aisle. During our time, frozen foods seemed to overshadow canned foods. But we liked fresh and local best of all.
Some things many of us were against but got passed anyway were NAFTA and the GATT Agreements. Many of us fought for the rights of workers to earn not just a minimum wage, but a living wage, enough that would even allow a family some money to take a vacation occasionally.
Our generation opened our minds to inter-racial marriage and even same-sex marriage. Not getting married became even an acceptable option. Abortion was legalized during our time, but many baby boomers have been all over the map even in their own lives about this issue.
I would dare to say that many of us became better educated than those who preceded us. Yet probably most of us have changed our careers a number of times since our first jobs. And some of us had no choice in that. For example, if you majored in journalism in college in the 70's, most of your jobs have evaporated.
Teachers have probably seen their careers change the most. Gone are the blackboard, and in many cases, even the dry erase boards. Teachers now have to compete with students who are more inclined to communicate by texting, facebooking and myspacing. They are not turned on to the telephone, television, letter writing or even reading books. Forget the great classics!
We baby boomers also thrived on liberal arts, such as philosophy, sociology, anthropology, political science. Women were discovering that they could be more than teachers, secretaries or nurses. Some of us went into business administration and medicine and law. Today we have too many lawyers and not enough philosophers, too many doctors and not enough nurses.
Some people, mostly younger than us, will say that we didn't live up to the high ideals we espoused in our wild and rebellious times. Yes, some did. But I think that most of us spent lifetimes living out our ideals. Today, look to see who are writing most of the letters to the editor, attending public meetings, organizing neighbors and speaking out at rallies.
Lastly, someone once offered that this generation would be known at the one that took advantage of "recovery." Due to our constant search for identity as individuals but also as accepted members of community, many of us discovered that we had to do some recovery in our own lives. Thus the growth of Alcoholics Anonymous, Parents Anonymous, The Artist's Way, Ala non, Codependents Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-Step groups. Maybe because of our ability to look inside, we will be, or have been, able to not pass on character defects that were passed on to us from generations before us. Many of us became the first generation to speak family secrets and to disarm the harm with which these secrets burdened us.
So as I tie this blog up, let me say that I am proud to have been a Baby Boomer. We did a darn good job, and we continue to do good jobs as grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents ourselves. I challenge the generations that follow to rack up a record that can even begin to measure up to our successes. And we're not even close to closing up shop yet!
We were many. Our work was much. We hold our heads up high!And hey, our music rocked!