But make no mistake about this era: it was not (as some younger folk seem prone to believe) an idyllic age. As with every generation, we experienced both the best and the worst of our time. We have nothing but our own experiences from which to draw … and no basis for comparison with any other time. As to tags like best and worst, I won’t speak for my peers but I’ll venture into personal opinion about what I remember.
The “best” of that time may have been the prosperity that allowed us to enjoy such abundance unknown to previous generations. We were blessed. Our horizons were expanding into space, technology was just in its infancy but with so much potential.
Most likely the “worst” would include all the ugly incidents and tragedies that were seared forever into our memories. Some were our own private Hells while others were terribly public and seemingly all-encompassing. I don’t have to enumerate them here. A Google search is more than adequate to dredge up all the details.
Baby Boomers as a whole have often been fond of “causes,” including the so-called Peace Movement. We were, after all, the children taught to take cover under our desks (today, they’d call it “sheltering in place”) in the event of a nuclear attack. (As if crawling under one’s desk would save us?! Yeah, I know. We were naive.)
Today’s Baby Boomers (many of whom are at or close to retirement age) may have difficulty remembering those days. I offer the sonnet below to help clear away some of the fog.
Whether it’s world-peace or inner-peace, no generation is able to corner the market on this precious commodity. Ours didn’t.
In his book, The Iranian Time Bomb, Michael Ledeen says: “Americans are the first people in the history of the world to believe that peace is the normal condition of mankind.”
I’m guessing Ledeen’s observation wasn’t directed at the Greatest Generation.