Before we can negotiate a cease-fire in the war on boomers, some groundwork needs to be laid. To begin: I use the term “boomer”, with apologies to those who may be offended by its crassness. It’s easier to type and is, for better or worse, in popular use. I’m not going to wage a side-war for change in terminology at this point.
One erudite defender of the boomers, Vanishing American, has penned, what has become a standard fare strategy: we must look beyond generational quips and blame failing social mores, as a whole; moreover, as Christians, we ought to recall Holy writ when considering how to treat our elders.
I agree with her post, generally speaking, and yet, knowing the anti-boomer angst “from the inside out” (as it were), I need to add caveats so as to make the argument more palatable for those, in my generation (and beyond), who feel very real anger towards their parents’ generation:
A mistake the pro-boomers sometimes make is to flippantly wave away generational angst as mere “daddy-issues” or direct otherwise antagonistic remarks towards “the kids” whose deep-seated anger is often mistaken for confused whining. This is unfortunate as, in the minds of the younger generations, it’s just more finger-wagging from clueless boomers: “you kids don’t know how good you have it and need to respect your elders!”
The anger bubbles up in me even when trying to objectively consider it. You’re darned right I have “daddy issues!” This will not be waved away or glossed over. Attempts to do so end with enraged outbursts rather than soothing hostility. It *will* be addressed, and thoroughly. The boomers are guilty of very real crimes against the natures of their children that cannot be ignored or written off as generalized social ills. If they could, I suspect anger towards the boomers would be more of the mundane sort that all generations (rightly or wrongly) have towards their elders. Yet anger towards boomers, as even Vanishing American admits, has risen to a new level.
Imagine Ward Cleaver sending his coon-skin-hat-wearing son into the Somalian countryside, armed only with the advice to “punch bullies in the nose, by golly!” Then, he returns to his armchair and newspaper, oblivious to the cries of his wife and children, who are staving off AK-47-weilding African minors…
…imagine this and you’ll begin to understand the generational angst. The rotting corpse of a culture we live in expands the problems one-thousand fold; little Beaver can’t even retreat to his bedroom after a day in the African wilderness without being chastised by Ward for not having good enough grades.
As Christians, however, it’s our job to negotiate any possible cease-fire in the war on boomers:
Despite the harm and offense I feel towards my parents, I have, nevertheless, devoted the entirety of my life to trying to champion and defend their worldview. That is: I’ve desperately tried to defend their Christianity; desperately tried to defend their politics; desperately tried to carry on the best of the spirit they’ve instilled into my sister and I. I’ve tried to champion rural, family, life. I’ve tried to boil down their evangelicalism and tie in politics and economics to their Christian philosophy. In short: despite their many failures and errors, the one thing they successfully did – for me anyway, and I recognize how rare this is – was to pass on the dying torch of Christendom.
It’s very frustrating when, in the attempt to defend the very flame they’ve passed to me, I get assaulted from them (and their fellow boomers) for wanting to topple the institutions and regimes they’ve (incorrectly) supported their entire lives. The church, as it exists now, must end. The government, as it exists now, must end. This makes me a radical in their eyes. A revolutionary. And they, along with most boomers, don’t recognize the way their “spirit” looks when it’s not encapsulated by these rotten institutions. They’re reflexively afraid of it.
Here’s where the cease-fire becomes possible…
With the help of VA’s writings (and the protestations of other defenders-of-the-boomer), I’ve realized this revolutionary spirit in myself. And I’ve always hated revolutionaries. We younger generationists need to be shown that our revolutionary angst ought to be tempered, for the sake of the very spirit we’ve spent our lives championing.
I’m not expressing this very well, but, in effect: we do love our parents very much, so we ought to romanticize them as champions of the purified spirit of the West that we have, also, spent our lives pursuing. In that, we and the boomers (at least, the best of them) are in league and might, if realized, cease hostilities and face the Devil with a unified front.
I do this and have always done it, when I’m at my best. When I’m at my worst (which is frequent), I tend to forget it.
I hope any of the baby-boomers who are angered by my forgetfulness are as willing to forgive me for my shortcomings as I am to forgive them for theirs (…and we all, being humans – of whatever generation – need to love much and forgive much).