December 8th, 2007

Roman

generations

I glanced at my AARP Bulletin today and saw an article on the first baby boomer, who is applying for social security early (at age 62, on January 1, 2008). A bit later I saw a blurb that said Tom Brokaw is challenging us all to emulate the "Greatest Generation" by sacrificing more for the common good.

I have no argument with sacrificing for the common good. I do have an argument with that "greatest generation" crap. This country went to war with JAPAN, folks, not because of the horrors that Hitler was visiting upon the Jews, even though we knew about it. We didn't want to become involved. In fact, we didn't even allow many Jews into this country, those who were fleeing the death chambers (look at immigration records and laws from that time). Finally we did get involved, and because our forces were fresh and our country was not itself invaded (Hawaii was not a state yet) we were able to bring the war to an end. Don't get me started on the bomb.

My parents were both clearly of that generation. Like probably most others, they honestly used their ration cards, did what they could, with the occasional move into shadier corners to get a bit more butter or maybe a steak. My mother worked for the Red Cross as a volunteer, my father designed barracks (I am not sure if it was barracks) for the army.

Would we have acted differently? I don't think so.

It disturbs me that people get together, work together, more often against something than for something. It's easy to bring us together to fight a common enemy. It's far more difficult to fight for a common good. Thus, working together to defeat a clearly insane enemy, Hitler in particular, can't have been that difficult. What we face today is more insidious: an enemy who pretends to be leading us, protecting us from evil, while supporting actions we used to condemn in others. The "uniter" is the greatest divider we've ever known. How can we compare generations under these circumstances?