Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Party is Over!

The Party is Over!

I am considered old now and the people of my generation don’t envy me. We live a long life but being old is not popular. My generation, which we shaped ourselves, idolizes youth. We wanted to change what was wrong with the world, and the change had to be done by young people. The others called us the Baby Boomers and we overwhelmed them by numbers. A whole lot of us became teenagers around the same time, and we did what teens normally do, namely rebel against everything. Our generation had lofty ideas, like ending wars, eliminating racial segregation, equalizing the genders and escaping the hold of the old churches over our souls. Out in the streets, we went singing “we shall overcome” and look at what we have done.

In the process, we worshiped youth and threw away the traditional belief that old people have experience and sometimes wisdom. Our old people were the people of the great wars. Folks who survived, often by obeying horrible dictators like Stalin, Hitler, and others. They wore formal clothes, cut their hair short, religiously shaved and believed in maintaining discipline by force. They hung on to the little they had and didn’t believe in creativity and risk-taking. Life was regimented and people knew their place.

A period of affluence followed the war and a large middle-class grew, with baby boomers riding the wave. We arrived upon the earth when the Great Depression effects were still fresh on people’s minds and horrible wars were a reality not a chapter in history books. Our parents had been through it. There were so many of us and most were heading towards becoming the envied middle class that lived in relative prosperity and peace, such as never existed before. We rode on the coat tales of FD Roosevelts “New Deal” which made not just America but most of the world great.

It was my generation that broke through the stratosphere and sent people to space. We were the people who first used the birth control pill and made music in the park all night long, marched on Washington demanding voting rights, eliminated the draft, death penalties (in most places) and successfully implemented Health Care everywhere but in the United States. Our girls invented and used modern makeup, cosmetic surgeries, proper dental care, exercise for the masses and feminism as a human right.

Now the party is over and the cleanup crew has not arrived yet. I and the rest of the BabyBoomers, Hippies that turned Yappies are still alive. Some have pacemakers and others need hip replacements or dialysis but we are still alive. Eyes fixed by laser surgeries shed a tear when we think about missed opportunities and building up a culture where youth and wealth determine success. We may still have the home in the suburbs and drive a fancy SUV, but our kids unsuccessfully pursue our old goals of getting ahead and left us hanging out to dry or placed us in a lodge to be attended by newcomers also striving for Yappy ideals.

When we removed our Hippy hair and hand embroidered or tie-died shirts in favor of business suits and traded singing We Shall Overcome for airplane vacations, credit cards, and framed certificates, the world changed. Our generations cheated and bullied its way to fake prosperity leaving mountains of garbage and scorched earth in its wake. Our attitude of “fly now and pay later” was good for a short while but now is later, and we are still around wrinkled, bald and gray hiding behind manufactured rock facades and wrinkle reducing creams on our faces. The children we raised to believe they own the world with no need to pay with the hardships that our parents faced are trying not to miss their chance and destroying what's left of the world even faster.

I was watching a popular political commentary this morning telling about oil companies that are moving out since we have regulations demanding a clean up after drilling. The new government apparently is going to change it. They believe that economics is more important than ecology. Great, I murmured, since my people, the baby boomers will get the benefits while the millennials will figure out who will pay for the cleanup.

Our forefathers came to this land wild and harsh as it was. They cleared the natives, animals, forests, and insects and raised us to do the same. We were on a mission to conquer nature and make it efficiently produce wealth for us. We got rid of the people who built and served and replaced them with automation fueled by oil and gas. Our mega-corporations and banks that are too big to fail were able to control governments and take advantage of the planet's resources and most of its population, but now the party is over.

We taxed everything to pay for our pleasure. Freshwater is disappearing and the air is no longer cleaning the pollution or acting as it should, or regulating the weather. Floods, fires, droughts, and hurricanes became common and millions of people are adversely affected but the majority of Albertans I normally meet say it's not so. Seeking the comforts and pleasures we used to have, they declare “false news” and walk away in order not to argue. If the news bothers them, they choose not to watch the news.

Now it is too late for me to demonstrate or march against governments which may ruin my grandkids lives. I am old and being old is not fashionable. I fought for justice, I worked for my home and pension, and all I can hope for is that they don’t take my health care away, or I will fight. I sit and patiently wait for my kids to visit and write about what I have learned. Perhaps some young people will revive the old tradition. The tradition of appreciating old people for their experience and wisdom.

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