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Why Baby Boomers Refuse to Act Old

I was amused by a newspaper article once, where a medical doctor remarked baby boomers create problems because they refuse to admit they’re old.

Although my birth occurred near the tail end of the boomer generation, I’d like to present a defense of those who feel life’s winter’s winds blowing down our necks but insist on sporting summer wear, figuratively speaking.

We are the generation who overcame. In order to understand that, you need to know a bit of ancient history—say about fifty years’ worth.

Imagine what your world would be like if you could send a five-year-old down the street and around the corner—alone—to buy a loaf of bread at the small-town grocery store. It would be completely safe. That was our world as children.

Imagine how secure your world would be if you knew nurses always wore white dresses and caps in hospitals; ministers and businessmen were identified by white shirts and ties, and moms of all cultures wore dresses and skirts. All men except the town bum, had one of three short haircuts.

We all knew there would be an American flag and a portrait of George Washington on the front wall of our elementary classroom. That wasn’t corny; it was teaching us respect.

Our world was completely predictable and safe. We knew what to expect. And that gave us room to develop inside those parameters without the distraction of wondering what would change next.

Then came the social revolution of the ‘60s. Suddenly our school curriculum changed to include situation ethics and other nonsense, sex and drug education, and bizarre courses no one ever heard of before that era.

Social scientists began telling our parents they needed to lighten up on us; our psyches would be warped if they spanked us; we needed freedom to express our “inner selves.”

Yielding to that thought, young people had “love-ins” in public places like fountains in the city square. Walking across a college campus was sex education in itself, because students didn’t care what they did in public or even who had to look at them. Once, on the way to a university class, I had to step over a couple lying on the sidewalk, doing what should have been behind closed doors.

Radio waves filled the air with mellow love songs such as What the World Needs Now is Love. And of course, that helped usher in the hippie culture with its unisex look and rampant drug use.

What had happened to our safe, predictable world as young adults of the boomer generation?

It crumbled.

Those who had enough sense to stay out of the alcohol, drug and party scene had to overcome a lot: a huge cultural shift, a paradigm, to stay afloat.

Some unfortunate young people were fooled by the hype that there were no consequences if they indulged in the things that had been taboo just a few years earlier. They discovered it wasn’t true.

But, returning to the subject, we are the generation who overcame. We overcame a total shift of cultural morals. We endured wave after wave of change…and still survived.

We got degrees and job skills, held down jobs, bought homes and started families while those around us partied and burnt out their brains.

So you want to know why we refuse to admit we’re “old”? It’s all about survival. You relax at the oars and you crumble. Those who survive to this day generally kept their eyes on a goal and ultimately found that wisdom rested in the minds of our grandparents.

How about you? Any words of wisdom about the boomer generation? Feel free to comment below.

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