“I suppose every generation has a conceit of itself which elevates it, in its own opinion, above that which comes after it. ” Margaret Oliphant, Scottish romance novelist, 1828-1897
It’s hard to turn on a computer or flip through a periodical in the U.S. these days without coming across a cartoon or meme or even a news story in which one of these generations isn’t smacking down the other.
As a GenXer – who has experienced a lifetime of Boomer, well, “exceptionalism” — it’s tempting to pop some corn and watch the show. But, I can’t. And, no one else can, either. America has enough division going on without a generational war ripping through.
The most ridiculous part of this particular dust up is how much each generation needs the other.
It’s true, on both the personal and practical levels.
Boomers need Millennials. To love, enthuse and amuse them — this generation is, after all, comprised of Boomers’ children and grandchildren. To make sweet little grandbabies who wear stripey PJs to bed. To create a reason to hope. To be tomorrow’s money — paying it into the system that will fund Boomers’ Medicare and their Social Security. To provide the eldercare and medical care many people need in later life. To provide the energy and ideas and zeal that make America work.
And, Millennials need Boomers. To love, enthuse and amuse them — again, Boomers are this generation’s parents and grandparents. To provide a support network for all those PJ-wearing babies — hello, grammy! To remind of reasons to hope. To be today’s money — providing a reliable source of right-now employment and start-up funds for future sources of employment. To provide the perspective and caution that keeps America from going off the tracks.
Each generation – both social designations such as Millennial and Boomer and plain-old stages of life – has its own strengths and weaknesses. In a family, we fill in the gaps for each other because we love each other.
If we want our nation to function well, we need to do the same thing — if not out of love, out of necessity. God help the nation in which one generation is actually wishing another ill.