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What is the world coming to?

How many times have you heard The world is going to hell on a skateboard? OK, so if I did not tell you, you probably heard The world is going to hell in a handbasket. After last night’s post, I returned to a chain of thinking which always leaves me scratching the noggin and ends in the question:

Where did it all go wrong?”

Hell in a handbasket

Before we begin, I am going to lay a few ground rules. As you are well aware, this is not a political blog. While I am not opposed to political theory being penned, I will not abide political arguing, flaming or denigrating. This is a historical look into what brought us to our current position which does not place sole blame on any one group and seeks to find generational understanding.

Be respectful, or I will turn off the comments. (Takes off Momma hat and puts down the ruler.)

The Largest Generation

The Boom

Baby boomers are the largest generation in human history. They were born from the millions of couples who had one or both members headed off to World War II. Times of war often see a rise in the birth rate. It is a natural reaction to knowing one spouse may be lost. (No, we will not be discussing the genetic-procreation reflex.)

More Than I Had

Growing up the children of Depression-era parents, baby boomers were afforded every luxury possible. Their parents’ work ethic was unquestioned, especially post WWII. The Age of Woman had yet to dawn, and most mothers were still home preparing lunches and dinners on a daily basis.

The Entertainment Hour

The Entertainment Hour

Television and Rock ‘n’ Roll were the new black. Families gathered to watch the television, as the parents had done round the radio of the 1930s and 40s. Crime was something they heard about in the D-section of the newspaper, something delivered each day which Father read at the breakfast table over coffee and toast.

The attitude these parents had was one of providing more for their children than they had had growing up in the throes of a wrecked economy. And provide it they did.

The Age of Peace

It is hard to reconcile the 1950-60s as a truly peaceful age based on the sheer magnitude of wars and skirmishes which spanned the globe. However, in this instance, the time was considered a peaceful age based on the pervasive attitudes of the world citizens who vehemently opposed the wars.

Peace and Love, Baby!

Boomers were now late teens and twenty-somethings. They were well aware of the condition of their conceptions. That condition produced in most an anti-war sentiment which had not been as prevalent in more than 300 years.

They dressed in flowing, flowery clothes; adorned themselves, their vehicles and anything else they touched with peace symbols; and rallied, protested and objected peacefully to the regimes which continued war efforts: Wars they saw their parents create, propagate and feed.

The Nuclear Freeze

War was a word of worry. It brought images to mind of flag-draped coffins, stoic rows of white, limestone grave markers and war orphans. The silence of the world after Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a palpable, reverent blanket which had covered the globe in the solemnity of the destruction and death of war.

The following decades would bring the ultra-secret nuclear research out into the light for public scrutiny and exploitation. They would also bring the viable threat of future violence to a nearly tangible level. Regimes were rebuilt, shattered or left to flounder as reward or punishment for war crimes.

Drop The Bomb

In what now smacks of irony, The Cold War was waged between superpowers with merely the jape of pressing a red button to enforce political and monetary will when diplomacy failed. One concept kept The Cold War from treatise: No one wanted a third world war in a century.

Rather than employing the diplomatic maneuvering necessary to bring about true world peace, countries took sides, as they always had, save only without engaging the other side in full scale, global combat.

The Cycle?

Knowing their parents had worked hard to provide for them, Boomers split in forwarding the mentality of more than I had. Some saw the world as a terrible place where children should not be raised. Others saw the dawning of a wonderful age, bringing children into the world to surround them with peace and love. Most of them continued the more than I had mentality.

Boomers did not repeat the large birth cycle, with many of them choosing to have fewer or no children. Children no longer represented a family workforce, as they had in the Depression. They were not a last bastion to hold a family name alive. They were progeny which came with a price tag.

…Priceless

The Credit Age

As the boomers children were toddling off to kindergarten, credit cards were all the rage. Unlike the charge accounts their grandparents had had at general stores across the nation, they were purchasing items they both needed and wanted on the mere promise to pay later.

Disposable income was coined. No longer was the amassing of family fortune either a priority or fashionable. A flurry of fast industry was birthed. Time became a commodity, traded for pleasure.

…along come faster rats.

Peaceful Erosion

The lax attitude of the boomers was far different than it had been when they were chained to fences of defense factories and embassies. They were caught up in the rat race. Not noticing the erosion of the peace they had fought to obtain or simply being so far removed from the process and climate which produces war, they found the everyday concerns more pressing.

Or did they?

Today

The current wars were negotiated and orchestrated by those same boomers who were flower-adorned protesters a few decades earlier. They schooled two generations behind them in the art of foreign policy and the profiteering of small scale, concentrated conflict. They recognized and realized the benefits of exploitation of foreign war.

What is the world coming to?

Think about the change in values from the Depression Era parents to the Baby Boomers.

  1. With the condensed (and necessarily politically incomplete) version of the history above, what attitude change caused the reversal of the acceptance of war?
  2. Is economic priority shift the sole cause for the change in attitude toward war?
  3. How does this translate to the war attitudes with which Baby Boomers have raised their children?
  4. To which generation do you belong and what is the pervasive war attitude of the generation:
  • Jones (1954-1964)
  • X (Baby Busters, 1965-1981)
  • Y (Millenials, 1982-1993)
  • Z (Internet Generation, 1994-present)



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© Red Dwyer 2012
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23 Comments

  1. Any declaration of war is humanity’s ultimate admission of failure to reason. “Does not play well with others” comes to mind.
    Throughout the centuries and history of mankind, the same simple observation can be made repeatedly; humanity fails to learn from it’s mistakes, and clearly –will continue to do so.

    Reply
    • <<does not play well with others.

      Are you firm in your fatalistic view? I think there is opportunity for change…

      Reply
  2. Wow! My brian hurts. I am a boomer (but not of the peace movement/i.e. hippie thing). I think the olders saw the value of war. It was consequence after drawing a line in the sand and having others cross it. It wasn’t something anyone wanted, but they understood why it sometimes needed to happen. This really doesn’t answer the question, but should we avoid war at any cost? I sometimes feel like parts of this generation have gone there. War is not a good thing, but sometimes, it is a necessary thing. I wish we could all ‘just get along’, but the reality is something else entirely. JMHO I love it when my brain hurts:) Angie

    Reply
    • So what lead you to a different attitude? And before you commit to war is inevitable, think about it. Is it truly?

      Reply
  3. excellent!!!

    Reply
  4. I don’t think you can point to one thing. With people there is always conflict. Sometimes conflicts are over things that matter and sometimes they are over things that don’t. Does the end always justify the means? At times we need to stand up for what is right and go to war. Other times we don’t. I don’t think you can make it simply an economic priority shift because it is not just about impulse, but rather long term priorities. Money motivates, of course, but saying this is, in my opinion , too simple.

    I am a part of the Millennial group and I would say that the attitude is somewhere between “who cares” and “let’s just get along.” Of course, what do I know?

    Reply
    • Derek, you are right about the stance of the Millenials. When asked, they have very little knowledge of the steps which lead to war and are unwilling to sully their thoughts with the concept. Only those who are actively serving are faced with war’s reality. For the remainder, it is something about which the politicians blather and battle and Hollywood casts their favorite actors.

      I have to do some research on John’s comment, as I think what he has experienced as to the reception of veterans is more a local phenomenon than a national posture. I do not see Gens Y or Z being all that accepting of the veterans, but still question the logic behind their actions.

      My question was not what causes war, but what has led to the attitude change. And I agree money motivates.

      Reply
  5. Here are two excerpts from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech to the American people in 1961.

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    “Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

    The end of the fifties was the turning point IMHO and DDE was prophetic (scary). I was a junior in HS when Eisenhower gave this speech. I’m about a year or two ahead of the boomers. There has certainly been a lot of progress and innovation in the past 50 years but at what price? Our economy is a giant ponzi scheme and it’s unraveling quickly.

    Every war in our history, beginning with the Civil war began with some pretext, an excuse to begin the hostilities. I believe the VietNam war was the first time the pretexts were questioned and the peace marches began in earnest, eventually leading to the end of that terrible waste.

    Our attitudes certainly have changed. Today we welcome our soldiers home with parades and honors (as we should). When we came home from VietNam they spit on us. Soldiers go where they are sent and do their duty. I have no clue as to why war is accepted today. Maybe the majority of Americans are naive, maybe they simply don’t care?

    I better get off my soapbox before this comment turns into a post. LOL

    John

    Reply
    • DDE was one of my favorite Presidents of all time. I have do to some scratching on one of your statements, but the rest, not so much. I know VietNam was a turning point in our attitude toward war, which is shameful considering the seven which preceded it could not. (In support of Angie’s comment, I agree the Revolutionary War was one our populace agreed was necessary.)

      So to clarify, do you believe the crux of the attitude shift is money? And the soap box is welcome. You can copy your comment into the post box for your audience!!
      Red

      PS The other named American generations are:
      Lost Generation (1883-1900)
      Greatest Generation (The GI Generation 1901-1924)
      Silent Generation (Depression Era 1925-1945)

      Reply
      • I need to think a bit more Red. I came along in 1944 at the tail end of the Silent Generation (on the cusp between generations?). I do think change and the rat race were fueled by the illusion of wealth rather than actual wealth. Perhaps the acceptance of war was part of that illusion, an unwillingness to look behind the curtain, a willingness to be led, a forgetting to ask why.

        The reality is that most American families are sharecroppers. The harvest of ‘stuff’ doesn’t belong to us, homes belong to the banks, cars belong to the leasing companies, big screen TVs belong to Visa and MasterCard.

        As a society, we’ve forgotten that stuff can’t bring true happiness. We have become so accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for meaning and happiness that we believe what we’re told by the self anointed high priests of our society. We’ve become true believers (ever read “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer?), creating a new religion where war is one of the sacraments and our communion is more stuff.

        Lest you think I’ve become a hopeless cynic, the pimple must come to a head before it’s popped. Enough people are realizing that the emperor has no clothes and there is real hope for the future.

        Enough for one rant. One thing more. What were you scratching about?

        John

        Reply
        • I think that may be the subject of Talk Tuesday. Good answer!
          Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

          Reply
        • Just posted the reply….Still scratching.

          Reply
        • The part where you spoke of the soldiers being more accepted. I did some quick interviewing which I will reveal in the #TalkTuesday portion tonight. Thank you, John. Red.

          Reply
  6. I am not choosing any specific time period here, and my reflection on reading this posting is probably way off the mark but this is what I think…

    From the earliest conflicts to the present time wars have raged and unfortunately they always will, as man seemingly thrives on self destruction, whether it be simplistic bows and arrows or hi-tech weaponry and thermonuclear war there seems to be no end to it and in all of its many guises the solutions for world peace are still such a distant dream away…

    I think also that this posting will generate a high yield in comments, which is a positive process…

    Have a lovely Tuesday Red 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    Reply
    • Andro,

      Do you believe we, as the human race, fail to see the possible and probable benefits of concentrating all the negative (self-serving, greedy, juvenile) energy into something good for the whole of humanity? So this does not blow up into Who decides what is good for everyone else? let me supply one universal every country in the world should contribute and would reap benefit: A steady, clean water supply.

      As proven by far too many 12-step programs, once you can get over the hurdle of the very first agreement, those subsequent are far less difficult to attain.

      Or does this all circle back to attitude about money and avarice?
      Red.

      Reply
      • Yes I agree but then I am only one voice, part of the smaller voices that are repeated over many years of recognising the widespread failures of leaders around the world, sometimes that collection of voices can win over absurdity, small gains in a world of ridiculousness with leaders of all nations contributing to some degree the sickening demise, the negatives and tunnel vision attitudes that create such hardships for many…

        I guess that greed is one of the main factors and unfortunately the greedy are getting even greedier, perhaps one day the smaller voices will be heard and some common sense will prevail but when?

        After all surely in the 21st century everyone on this planet should be drinking clean and purified water, however after saying that if there are no riches to tap into, no abundantly high gains to reap then wherever those poor souls happen to be, they will forever be left behind in a world that apparently doesn’t care a jot, which is a terrible embarrassment for everyone I think…

        Still we as human beings must remain
        positive in the hope of a better future for all…

        Have a lovely afternoon and evening Red 🙂

        Androgoth XXx

        Reply
        • Thank you, Andro. Your comments lead to a question I shall ask in the 2000 post for #TalkTuesday. As always, I appreciate your comments, my friend. Be well as the witching hour approaches. 😉 Red.

          Reply
  7. bear

     /  January 16, 2012

    Unfortunately, war is a big business and the people who run our country, and have run our country in the past, got a share of the pie, whether it was oil, gold or property. To pin it down, we let our government start confrontations in the name of freedom/oil. If we do not win the conflict, then we are told we will run out of oil… Then we might have to stay home with the kids. Uh OMG So let’s bomb another country for their natural resources in the name of freedom. This is just an example. The middle east has always been a powder keg. We cannot fix it. Think it’s time we as Americans voiced our opinions on what the government does in the name of freedom.

    Reply
    • The Middle East is a good example of 2,000+ years of war over who knows what. I agree it is an arena where America should not perform. So riddle me this…

      You are a Jones. What led your generation to be tolerant of this war-mongering behavior? What causes the members of your generation to serve in office and bobble their heads in agreement when someone waves a tomahawk? (And no, I am not pointing the finger solely at Generation Jones.)

      Red.

      Reply
  8. Jones generation here. War is waged over the security of resources (oil and energy) and preservation of lifestyles – the famous “our way of life” statement heard by many a “good” man, willing to kill others to preserve it. Most of the world is not a nice place, and most its inhabitants do not live anywhere near the nice lifestyle that shapes our own paradigm.

    Eisenhower touched on the Military-Industrial economic complex that threatened peace, that is a dependence on war to keep our economy humming along.

    With the TV generation, Vietnam was the first war brought into our living rooms on a daily basis. The toll was devastating and the horrors of war made readily available for everyone to see and judge. After that war, major armed conflict in that scale was dated. Instead, we went to more scalable rapid warfare models. Desert Storm was brought to our Living Rooms in a 100 day gala that resembled a Nintendo game. 100 days was short enough to command our attention, and the few casualties was a huge confidence builder that would eventually lead us into the mess we find ourselves in now. Afghanistan and Iraq are truly a different feeling animal. Very little attention is given to the war, while most Americans go about their daily lives and any war talk seems to be buried deep in the din of a clutter of other noise regarding the economy, domestic problems, and worse, pop culture news. Precious few seem to care it seems.

    I don’t know what to make of all this. Sorry for the rambling.

    Reply
    • Not rambling at all, Phil. In fact, right on point. We take the time for the cult of personality, televise gala events and award these mindless minions with enough money to feed a third world country. It smacks of Marie Antoinette and cake. The impact I see making the largest dent is education, when not provided by the state, in the home. Where does our personal responsibility lie in ensuring we protect our freedom to intellect, freedom to instill the value of safety and freedom to endorse humanity?

      Reply
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