Sunday 3 September 2023

"Boomers" are just as bad as their worst critics say; but the following generations are even-worse

I'm afraid I regard the bulk of the "anti-Boomer" genre as strictly delusional; not because I disagree with all the nasty things they say about the post-1945 generation* - indeed in this respect, I don't think most anti-Boomers go anything like far enough, because they focus on physical-material flaws, whereas it is the spiritual sins of the Boomers that are most serious. 

Where I totally disagree with the genre is the inbuilt assumption - sometimes implicit, often explicit - that the later generations are superior to Boomers; including that later generations have learned from Boomer excesses and errors. 

This seems so utterly mistaken and truth-inverted that I must regard it as delusional. The fact is that that, generationally, things have Very Obviously gotten worse and worse; although not in exactly the same ways that Boomers went so wrong. 

Because leftist-materialism is an oppositional ideology, it contains many contradictory and incoherent strands. So, while Boomers were keen on divorce and "heterosexual" promiscuity then feminism; later generations are much keener on other sexual sins and lies. Whereas Boomers were mad for socialism/ communism, later generations are keen on Climate Change and Diversity... Boomers are selfish and cling to life, but later generations are more prone to suicide and despair. 

And so on. 

But - changing the theme of evil is not a move-towards Good!

If later generations really were better than the Boomers, then we would be seeing a pendulum-swing back towards sanity - whereas we are seeing the opposite: the pendulum swings further-and-further away-from common sense and basic decency. 

I think the problem arises from the great sin of our era, which is resentment. While it is fine and factually-correct to hate Boomers and get angry at what they/we have done as a generation; once resentment enters-in, then we are into the realms of the master sin of Christianity: which is Pride. 

Delusional Anti-Boomerism is a form of Pride, which is why it feeds-upon-itself, is so insatiable, and so corrupting to those who hold it. 

Resentment doesn't just oppose, it assumes self-superiority; such that every criticism of Boomers becomes an implied self-aggrandizement. The worse the Boomers are painted - the better (tacitly suggested) seem later generations. 

In other words, resentment-driven Anti-Boomerism becomes just another Poor-Me/ Evil-You leftist victimology; unless contained within a realistic understanding that the worst legacy of the Boomers was the corruption of later generations. Which means that later generations need to accept that they are even-worse than the worst they can say about Boomers.  


*"Boomers" (an American term, never used in Britain until recently) are presumably those born up to about 1970, on the biological basis of the length of a generation being the average date of childbirth. For most of history (among demographers); "one generation" used conventionally to be 25 years (with, therefore, four generations per century) - on the basis that about half the surviving children were born to the average woman before that age, half afterwards. More recent generations in The West/ developed world are therefore more than 30 years, since currently the average date of first child is greater than 30 years.   


No Longer Reading said...

This comment isn't about Boomers, but in general, if you look at a wider spread of history, it's difficult for people to go beyond the assumptions of their time. And this is especially true in the modern world, where things change substantially with each generation.

And it's not enough to just be a contrarian, you have to look below the surface and get to what's really going on. Some people who did that well are Chesterton and the Inklings, as well as Steiner and probably also some of the early Romantics.

To look at Chesterton in particular, he didn't get swept along with the Decadents of the "gay nineties", in fact, I suspect that when he saw what they were doing that led him to become more religious.

But also he didn't get swept up with the emphasis on material prosperity, imperialism, etc. He wanted to get back to the deep springs of Britain, or rather Logres, as Lewis would say.

And it's not primarily about how far back in time you go. It's not length of time so much as, trying to get a true understanding versus being swept up in things that seem compelling at the time but ultimately are not of fundamental importance.

Mia said...

The usual thing to note is that subsequent generations don't defend their own generation. I was fairly astonished at the open hostility toward Millennials in the work place from pretty much everyone older, including official publications and corporate statements, yet I never once heard a Millennial object. Now I'm a Millennial so maybe my reaction counts as objecting, but I've also long been appalled by the entitled attitude of my generation, so it was more that I expected them to object because they are the snowflake generation. I'm not sure why they never did, but apathy is a more likely explanation than some hidden self-awareness or virtue. But regardless, the lack of strong generational identity among Millennials is part of it.

Mark Anderson said...

The Jews with a written history going back thousands of years, and a long oral history since the Old Testament, have great insight into generational conflict. A rabbi once explained to me that the 'Boomers' felt that their parents left nothing for them to do that would be significant. Thus they rebelled. They have seen this endless times.

Lady Mermaid said...

As a millennial, I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Mass politics and the breakdown of society have fueled resentment among many different people groups with everyone imagining themselves as victims. The young are pitted against the old, whites against blacks, rich against poor, men versus women etc. I used to post on Twitter and got caught into resentment myself. I'm ashamed and have repented. Life commitments thankfully forced me to abandon Twitter. I'm quite grateful that God pulled me away and admonished me not to get involved in petty squabbles that fuel rage.

While anger can be righteous in the right circumstances, (even Jesus got angry), most anger is simply resentment. Yes, the Boomers have made serious mistakes. (To be fair, most of the 1960s bad policies can truly be laid at the feet of the Greatest Generation/Silent as they were the adults in charge) However, we millennials tend to wallow in self-pity and nurse grudges instead of learning from those mistakes. Worse, we have doubled down on many of the follies that the Boomers had swallowed such as globalism, the sexual revolution, feminism, etc.

The Great Divorce illustrates how resentment can be toxic and keep people out of heaven. In fact, resentment may be a greater danger to one's salvation than other sins such as gluttony, greed, lust, or the larger sins of violence and murder. "Judge not" is one of the most misunderstood Bible verses. It's not arguing against discernment of good and evil, but warning that we often forget to root out our own sins by focusing on others' sins.

I certainly don't deny that millennials have lived through a time of challenge through the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of wokeness, the 2020 birdemic, etc. I've yet to achieve certain milestones that previous generations would have achieved. However, simply blaming the Boomers does no good. As the Boomers age and leave this world, we need to pray for their souls that they repent of their sins and follow Jesus into eternal life.

I would encourage millennials and other younger generations to stop being resentful and work to become co-creators with God. We can go out and build relationships based on love. Small acts of creation can go a long way. Jesus stated that anyone who offers a cup of water in His name would by no means lose his reward. I doubt any of us commentators can become a heroic King Arthur figure, but as hobbits we can do small acts in our communities to facilitate God's kingdom.

Bruce Charlton said...

@LM - Good comment.