OK Boomer Thumbs Up Tall

First of All, I Come in Peace

Originally posted on June 25, 2020 @ 10:33 am

So here’s the thing:  we Baby Boomers have come through an awful lot. I mean seriously: rebuilding after World War II, Vietnam, the feminist movement, the civil rights movement, TV going from black and white to color, the space race, music from rock ‘n roll all the way through hip-hop and all it is still giving birth to, from calf-length skirts to mini-skirts to maxi skirts to whatever-you-want-skirts, from kids blushing as they hold hands to Netflix and chill, through JFK getting killed, through RFK getting killed, through Martin Luther King getting killed, through Malcolm X getting killed, from no swear words on TV and radio to fights against obscenity on TV and radio, from TV and radio to streaming, from going to the movies to movies on VHS to movies from the local box to movies streaming on tablets and phones, from long-corded phones to tiny phones smaller than a deck of cards, from violence on TV to violence outside our doors, and a gazillion other things I can’t think of right now.

You get the picture.

So when someone throws out a snide “OK, Boomer” accompanied by a sarcastic thumbs up and an all-knowing roll of the eyes, we should take that as an insult, right? That is how it’s meant, right?

Well, I refuse to be insulted by it. We Boomers should stand proud and tall because regardless of where we personally fall within that born-between-1946-and-1964 span of time, we have all seen a lot of world-changing life and the fact is, whether GenZers or GenXers or anyone else wants to admit it, we actually DO know what we are talking about a lot of the time.

And yes, the world is changing and changing fast. But from what I’ve seen so far, I’m not all that impressed. Our parents went through a hell of a lot more in their world while raising us than we have in our world raising our children. At least that’s my take on it.

When I was a kid, I thought I must have been born in the golden age. After all, the hard fights had already been fought, as far as I knew. As a black woman, my mother had a great career in state government, unlike her mother who worked as a maid. When I was really young, I remember going to a drinking fountain that still had a “Whites Only” sign on it; it was a relic and it should have been removed by then but blacks were still being lynched in America. Of course, the older I got the more I realized the fights were still going on, lots and lots and lots of fights. And yes, they’re still happening.

I appreciate what young people are dealing with these days. I really do. But not for one moment do I accept that we Baby Boomers are “out of touch.” The world keeps turning and, really, there’s nothing new under the sun. The fights for equality have just expanded in their subject matter (although the old fights never stopped). The fight for freedom from violence has just expanded from fear of hanging from trees to fear of being shot going to your car (although the old fights never stopped).

My kids and me, we talk. We talk about it all. We talk about everything. One thing that I appreciate about them – my grown sons – is that they appreciate my experience, my insight, and my wisdom. Yes, wisdom. It comes to anyone who pays attention throughout their lives and wants to acquire it. My eldest son actually recently commented on this, that more often than not we end up being pretty spot on about what’s coming up simply from applying what we’ve already learned.

“OK, Boomer.” If you live long enough, and if you are fortunate enough to acquire any wisdom along the way, some young person will spit that word at you one day. When it happens, I encourage you to stand proud because it’s a compliment.

None of this means that we don’t need to listen to the young people, the GenXers and the GenZers and whatever the next generation wants to call themselves. (I’ve already heard someone say “coronials.”) We absolutely do need to hear and to discuss, to really talk with each other. I don’t believe that any one side of any argument is all right or all wrong.

On this blog, I will try to address life from both sides and I will probably pick my sons’ brains about it on the way. Look, we all have to live here together and there are a lot of common enemies. Don’t you think it’s time we stop insulting each other and further dividing ourselves and start living and working together for the good of us all?

I do.

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