Ilya Shambat

Ilya Shambat
Location
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Birthday
November 21
Title
Partner
Company
Adda Enterprises
Bio
Born in Russia, family moved to America when I was 12. Got a degree from University of Virginia at 18. Worked for Oracle, translated four books of classical Russian poety, was part of San Francisco and Washington, DC poetry and music scene. Good friends with San Francisco's own Persephone's Bees and acquainted with Patch Adams. Currently married with children, residing in Australia and working on a clean energy technology implementation.

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Salon.com
JULY 29, 2013 3:40AM

World War II Generation and History

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We see a lot of people who were part of the World War II generation complain that not everyone lives exactly the way in which they did. They should have more knowledge of history. The world changes in all sorts of ways all the time; and that they believed their way would last forever does not mean that the reality would collaborate with that belief.

My grandmother was of the same generation. She was a Soviet Communist, who believed in Marxism-Leninism in the same way that many in America believe in Christ. She was in no way an evil person. She was hard-working, responsible, nurturing and committed, just as many World War II generation Americans see themselves as being. She had to see the entire grand work of which she was ardently a part come undone. Whereas American World War II generation people still see their country endure, even if not in precisely the form they want it to endure; which makes their loss far less than that of my grandmother and far less than that of many, many people in the world.

The World War II generation Americans worked hard; so did my grandmother. The World War II generation Americans were committed to their families; my grandmother was as well. And yet the work of which she was a part was completely destroyed, whereas what World War II generation Americans worked for endures. Which makes their discontent with the fact that not everyone now believes marriage to be for life, or sex to belong solely in the marriage, or homosexuality to be damnable, or black people and women to be unworthy of political power, trivial by comparison.

The World War II generation Americans should take pride in the fact that America is still there and that it remains the world's most powerful country. Most of what they worked for continues to exist. That is much more than can be said for most people in the world for the bulk of the time that the world has existed. They may not be getting exactly what they want; but they are getting a large chunk of it, which is more than can be said for the Soviets, the Chinese, the Germans, the English or any number of others.

In all historical situations it is important to put things into perspective. The loss of American World War II generation in seeing not everyone practice their social values is nothing compared to the loss that most people in the world have experienced, some at the hands of the World War II generation Americans themselves. My grandmother was at least as good a person as most Americans of World War II generation, yet everything she worked for was destroyed. Meanwhile most of what the World War II generation Americans continues to exist. And that makes their loss far less than that of my grandmother and any number of others.

The World War II generation can take consolation in the fact that, for the most part, they will be remembered well. Their respectable qualities are valued by people of all generations, including mine own. As for not everyone living the way that they did - that is just life. Things change and did all the time. Ways change and did all the time.

And compared to most other people through history, the World War II generation Americans have got much more of their way than have most others.

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