Labels are almost a national sport. Some of us are baby boomers, others millennials, etc. The labels then become a means to pigeon-hole groups. Almost an explanation or justification for a behavior by people. He or she did this or do that because their gen X’s or whatever. Some of these categories refer to persons born during a certain time period. Often we hear she’s a depression era baby, a Vietnam era or he,s part of the Great Recession. These are accurate in their limited sense. However these various hugely significant events can impact a person’s world view. Not all are affected the same but certainly some carry reminders of these events in their life decisions and thoughts.
The sixties and seventies were liberal breeding grounds in the minds of some people. Young people during these periods objected to war, racial discrimination, some traditional values or practices and the list could continue. Did all continue on this path in their life style and beliefs? One person appears to have maintained and continued to call for people to pursue many of these objectives. His is an interesting journey from New York to Vermont and from the street to the United States Senate.
This elderly Senator calling himself an Independent, seeking the US Presidency on the Democratic ticket found enormous support among younger people. His message resounded with millennials to use a label. His voice challenged Wall Street, financial institutions, corporate greed and basics like a living wage. These issues found strong support among many younger people. Some of us boomers supported him but the enthusiasm was with the young. This younger group came of age at a time when these concerns were in the forefront. Decent paying jobs were hard to find, home purchase beyond reach, college tuition and debt soaring, the collapse of the economy due to greed only to be remedied with a bailout to the culprits who caused it. Social issues also influenced the millennial generation. This group had a more diverse view of the world on issues such as gay people, gay unions, women’s right to choose and a view that sought a work-life balance unlike the work-centric attitude of many boomers. These views created a sense that voting was irrelevant, church attendance was ridiculous and a chance to go beyond what their parents had less likely for them. Senator Sanders said we can change this, we can make it better and the young turned out by the thousands to reply that they believed him. When he faltered in reaching his goal the steam fizzled for many. The Republican Party offered them nothing and likewise the mainstream Democrats were seen as too close to the corporate world and too similar to the Republicans. Some still believed in the overall direction of the Democratic Party but the enthusiasm and belief in change was gone.
So many years ago some of us so-called baby boomers carried similar feeling which were reflected in Eugene McCarthy and Bobbie Kennedy in their presidential bids. Somewhere along the way for many that fervor was lost maybe the passage of time or the accumulation of money and things, or maybe not. Regardless we, all of us, have a terrible dilemma now. Have we lost our way or can we together get back on track?
Elton John performed to a sell out crowd recently. His music and message has been able to cross generations and fill the seats with people of all ages. At nearly seventy years old people from 20 to 80 seem to be able to come together as a group. During the concert many people were waving their cells phones with the flashlights shown toward the stage. My thought was that cell phones as much as any item are the symbol of younger people, millennial people. Their lights are shining to show us the way just as they did as they followed Senator Sanders. We didn’t see the light then perhaps we can now. A darkness exists over many of us of various ages and we desperately need some light. The boomers who seem to be in charge of our country today have no vision. Their purpose is self-preservation and accumulation of money and things. The wisdom these people offer is not suited to younger people but it should be unacceptable to all. We must accept the wisdom of these millennials if we are to again become a nation of caring people not neglectful of so many. Our children and future generations need the world and the environment made better for them, paying it forward is a message of the young. Please light those phones again so that we might all find our way. Some of us are listening now. April 1st is April fools day. I think I will turn my cell phone light to the sky as a reminder to me that our world needs some light, younger light. Being foolish must end. Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick in his civil war poetry wrote that “senior wisdom suits not now, the light falls on the youthful brow.” Light your light and many will follow, many are listening now.