Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Generations

My paternal grandfather was a truck driver. He fought with the Third Infantry at Château-Thierry.  

My maternal grandfather came over from Italy and worked himself to death in the coal mines and then the family farm.  He worked hard enough to buy a farm fee simple in the middle of the depression.

My father was a soldier.  He waded ashore at X-Ray and and took a tour of Italy, France, and Germany.  He ended up as truck driver when he retired from the military.

I spent some time knocking about SE Asia; Nakhon Phanom as a E-4 flunky made for an interesting education. Got reprieved to Germany for being a good boy.  Got out, did my GI bill and started to change the trajectory of generations by first being a scientist, now a government stooge.

My children will probably go back to the constraints surrounding the generations before me.  At first this bothered me, but then I started analyzing my thinking.  The arrogance of thought is that somehow I have a better life, that I am more worthy than my forebears.  The big house I live in and the stuff that I have are proofs of my virtue.  If I want to be a good father, I must provide my children with more stuff and greater "opportunities".  The technical geegaws are proof of my advance

But if you stand back and look at it, opportunities are defined by the person, not his families desires for him.  My ancestors didn't have the education that I had, yet they raised their families and had full lives.  They worried about the same issues and dealt with them the same way.  They went to work every day.

I am thinking is that we are a society of spoiled children.  We boomers may be the worst of the lot.  We have been told that were are special for so long that we believe it.  Average is an insult.  But the world is too fully populated with folks who cannot or will not realize the limitations of being alive.  Instead, they harp constantly about "unlimited" possibilities and "infinite growth.

When you look back and truly examine the tracings of lives in the past you will see that happiness was just as prevalent before the improvements wreaked upon our lives during the past fifty years.  Now we have a lifestyle, not a life.  We have a house that is an investment, not a home.  We will have to go in a new direction, I think that it is important to remember that we really won't be losing that much.

2 comments:

Publius said...

Somber but good post.
I'm not a boomer: I'm Gen X (whatever that means).
But you are so right about happiness: studies have shown that so-called "poor" people in "developing" nations are as happy as we are. In fact, they are often happier.

Happiness, it turns out, doesn't require that much, but the few things it requires are often lacked by affluent Americans. Such things as: intimacy, friendships, community, ritual, connection, village life, etc.

Although I am glad I have a turntable and records to play beautiful music... but that was invented 100 years ago.

Be well...

Meadowlark said...

About kids going back to the constraints of our elders -

We figured YoungSon, the trilingual honors student would go to college and do "something". Instead, he dropped out, spent some time on a small farm, is fighting wildfire and teaching himself "smithing" and going back to school for welding. And he's happy. So we're happy. But boy, you should hear many of the people we know who think he's somehow "short-changing" himself.

We think not.