Friday, June 2, 2017

Bye Bye Boomers



To my young friends who are so worried about the future of our country, our planet and our very lives right now, I am here to tell you that you will survive these days.  I see Facebook posts from my 60+ aged contemporaries about how great we had it when we were young and I have to laugh.  Yes, there were a few years, mostly the 1950's, when we had peace, prosperity and our futures looked very bright, but there was also a terrible war brewing in Vietnam, a future president that would shame us with his paranoia and abuse of power, cruel racism, sexism, ruthless dictators and walls built to keep people more in than out.  We felt, at times, both hopeless and powerless, BUT, we did not give up or give in.  We were a large and powerful generation, as you are now.  We impeached that president and sent him packing.  We protested and got out of that war we should have never been in to start with. We fought hard for civil rights and equality.  We regained our prosperity, lost it again, and then regained it again.  We held our government and our representatives to higher standards.  We opened our borders so that others could prosper with us and tore down those terrible walls.  We did all this because it was our generation's responsibility to do so.  Now it's your generation's responsibility.  So don't buy that crap about how much better my generation had it, or how America needs to be made "great again".  Every generation has its own set of challenges and these are yours. AND, don't look to those old, white guys in our halls of government to help you, or even show you the way...make your own way...we did.

I woke up this morning and approached my computer with the sense of foreboding that I have had every morning for months now.  Dreading the daily recap of whatever horrific, cruel or just plain stupid move our leadership made yesterday, but the first thing I landed on was a speech, in English, directed at Americans from newly elected, French president Emmanuel Macron and my heart lifted. Here, I said, is the face of leadership for your generation!  This clear eyed, intelligent, eloquent, YOUNG man.  I am struck by the vision of all those NATO leaders striding down the street last week, standing tall, vigorous and engaging, and our president, in a golf cart, unable to keep up on any level with these young lions.

What you are seeing is not a country unraveling, dear hearts, but an era coming to an end and the desperate clawing and clinging of an old order trying to hang on.  This is what comes of staying at the party too long, it's just sad really.  It is, however, necessary to see the worst of what a generation can become to force new generations to determine who they will be.  I see you, my young friends, doing just that.  I am reminded of a the young John F. Kennedy, who swept out the old Washington establishment, set us on the path of social responsibility, and told us we could put a man on the moon! There was a reason Kennedy's White House was referred to as "Camelot".  His administration represented a new order.  It's hard to believe JFK would have turned 100 years old last month.  It should serve as a reminder that the baby boomers need to step aside and, by doing so, give your generation the space you need to make your world your own.  Oh, make no mistake, I will still call my congressman, still text on resistbot, still follow the news voraciously, and still vote, but I will look to your generation for inspiration and direction.  I know you won't let me down.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It's Not The Attitude, It's The Platitude



According to Wikipedia, a platitude is, "a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease."

My father, the football coach, was a veritable library of platitudes when it came to his children, "it always seems darkest before the dawn," "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," "sometimes you just have to take it on the chin."  On the other hand, my mother was a truth talker, telling us life was a problem solving process and we should seek real answers and solutions.  She actually once scolded my dad who was trying to help me through an emotional moment, "Ehrler," my mother called Daddy by his last name, as did everyone those days, football coach remember, "that child does not need platitudes, she needs your honest advice!"  Both my parents were very intelligent and wonderfully verbal, so while in the long run I benefited as an adult from Mom's, what felt sometimes like brutal, honesty, I was also soothed by Daddy's platitudes of comfort and encouragement.

Now that I'm in the "over 60" phase of my life, I'm suddenly making some very tough decisions about the use of platitudes.  Although, in everyday conversation these sayings have good uses, I find myself more and more engaged in conversations with friends and family about very difficult or life changing matters.  Conversations concerning devastating or debilitating illness, loss, sorrow, and despair.  What do you say?  How do you comfort?  As I search for the right words it seems the lessons of my mother come to the forefront more often than those of my father.  My mother's words, that could sometimes take you by the shoulders and shake you, also let me know someone cared about me enough to tell me the truth.  When you are looking into the eyes of real pain, a dismissive, "you poor thing," just isn't going to cut it.  I have found lately it's of much more help to say, "I see you're hurting, we both know this is not going away anytime soon, so let's get it out here, and I will hold your hand while you do what you have to do to face it."

Happy Mothers Day, Dear Hearts,

Sally