Saturday, September 3, 2005

Life Trek: Generations

It's my blog and I'll babble if I want welcome to one such rambling.

In the case of the title, I promise that William Shatner won't sing.

It is said that each generation has a "defining moment", an event on which it focuses, defines, shapes and hands down the lessons learned to the next generation. Not entirely unlike that indestructible fruitcake that Grandma's great grandma handed down, and each holiday season the tradition of giving the gift that can't be got rid of fast enough goeth on. For no one dares open it, lest Pandora's Culinary Con Carnage be unleashed upon the masses, like Riders of the Apocalypse, or Survivor: Newark, New Jersey.

So much for my generational view of fruitcakes and TV faux-reality shows.

Going back just a few generations, it isn't hard to find those easily discerned "defining moments": for my grandfather, it was most certainly "The Great War", World War I, and the following Great Depression (answer me what was so great about either?). For my parents, it was being children born amidst the Great Depression, and the follow up of "The Great War II", aka World War II. For my generation -- late Baby Boomers -- it was the Cold War and Vietnam, Watergate and The Great Malaise.

My grandfather's generation learned that we had the makings of being a great power in the world, but we didn't have to be if we didn't want to (and alot back then didn't want to); then he learned how quickly even a reluctant great power could fall victim to global economic downturns. In his case, as in so many others, he learned therefrom to pull himself and the family up by the bootstraps, because in the Great Depression, the welfare state had not yet been awarded statehood and unalienable rights.

My parents' generation learned how to be self-sufficient and get by, as well as -- desired as it was by some -- isolationism wouldn't work in a world with things like bushido and The New World Order, Nazi-style, jackboot loose and freedom-free. If it was worth having, and worth passing on to the next generation, it would have to be fought for and defended. That didn't change when National Socialism was beaten back, and replaced as a foe of capitalist freedom by Leninesque/Stalinesque Communism.

My generation learned all of this, but additionally found that not always is the enemy who we think; and not always is the fight a good fight. Some among us learned to question and defy authority; of free love, of tuning out and turning on; others among us learned to question authority alright, but to maintain that which we have and are, that civil disobedience had limits, and that authority, imperfect as it is, must also be trusted in to a point. In short, participation in the political process.

My generation still argues aspects of that today.

Today's generations -- those young adults, and those coming up -- receive all of the wit and wisdom, mistakes and triumphs, biases and personal perceptions we pass on to them. They take it all in, mix it with their own observations, life experiences, input from other sources, and find themselves having similar arguments to ours, plus those uniquely theirs, today. On top of which, they have their own "defining moments" to reckon with: September 11, 2001. The War on Terrorism. The Malaysian Tsunami. Hurricane Katrina. William Hung's Greatest Hits.

That last is proof that Life has a sense of humor. And/or is tone-deaf.

It is perhaps waaaaaay too soon to ask what the current youthful generation will take away from the "defining moments" of the fledgling New Millennium, to pass along to their proteges. But I'll venture some WAG*s anyway:

-- we're fighting the Fourth World War in the Middle East, called Islamofascism. It's a war that will go on for years beyond the roughly 25 years it's been going on so far (in my book, since 1979, with the taking of American hostages in Teheran). And like many wars, it must be fought to a conclusion; anything short of that will be taken by the terrorists as a sign of weakness; OR, we're refighting Vietnam, and all we have to do is apologize to the terrorists, give 'em some aid money, and let them know that we'll respect them and their rights to suicide bomb...and they'll leave us alone.

-- Puhlease.

-- no matter what the disaster, foreign or domestic, American hearts and wallets will open wide, and American volunteerism will rise to the top.

-- despite some American protestations that while American aid is always there when poop hits the fan elsewhere, foreign aid to America isn't there when poop hits the fan here, that isn't true, as Katrina shows. And while America could well get along without aid from anyone is just as appreciated here, as the givers now appreciate receiving it, when it's their turn in the maelstrom. In the face of natural disasters, it really is one world. At least for a little while.

-- along with that, unfortunately, will rise the squeaky-wheeled complainers and political opportunists, seeking to assign blame faster than liberals will spout apoplexies over tax relief and Social Security reform. No victim and their relief should get in the way of a chance to attack and savage a political opponent. And it isn't one-sided: if rabid liberals aren't blaming a hurricane on a president, some idjit evangipol is suggesting Katrina is the result of decadence in society. *Sigh*...let me jackslap the both of them and move on...

-- good and bad happens in the world; the media will focus on the bad, first, last, always. Depending, that is, on which party the president is from.

-- FOX News is becoming the great information disseminator; CNN, the great societal divider.

-- you'll never see the AFLAC duck at a disaster site, except perhaps as the main course.

'Nuff of my postulizing for now. I'll leave you to your William Hung album. Don't worry; I'm wearing hearing protection.


Blogger Monica said...

You are a riot. Still, I saw some kernels of seriousness in there. Good post, friend.

Enjoy your vacation.

03 September, 2005 11:47  
Blogger FTS said...

You have to love a post that draws you in with a humorous slant and then slaps you across the face with reality -- all while smiling sweetly at you as if to say, "This hurts me more than it hurts you."

I love Captain Kirk, but thank goodness you didn't let him sing.

04 September, 2005 11:22  

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