The lyrics to the song and a conversation I had recently have inspired this article. And yes, it is personal to a degree because it is my experience however; it is also an universal experience.
The reader will forgive the tone of this as I wax philosophical on a Monday morning. Perhaps this is a lazy Sunday type read; I was pretty busy Sunday and the inspiration was not posted until late Sunday night. While we are at it, Thank you to one of my sources, Royston Potter who must have been in a thoughtful mood on his way home from a weekend road trip.
We dive in…
It was necessary to create a graphic to contain the lyrics of this song by Boston.
This song, “A Man I’ll Never Be” the audience might assume, is directed at the beloved who is on the verge of figuring out the lover is not what she(he) wants or thought she(he) would be some far off day in the future. You know the day I am talking about; the day when everything is finally “right”, the day you know each other well enough to “decide” to invest, the day when the other is no longer an unpredictable “mystery.” On that day, things will be right, the lover can decide, the beloved is no longer a mystery therefore; the lover believes he(she) can risk a choice and the debt to net ratio is worth the perceived risk.
There are a couple of possibilities I am exploring; the lyrics have a broader meaning and that someday decision is a fallacy. Let’s talk about the potential broader meaning.
There is a gap between the world view of parents or grandparents, depending on by whom you were raised and your own world view. This gap is a gap of shared understanding based on shared experiential knowledge. Parents have a head start; their morals, ethics and values already shape their world view.
The next generation, the children are shaped in part by parental world view however; at some point the youth begin to notice cracks and voids between what they were taught and what they experience. This is the gap; what started out as cracks grow to fissures and sometimes caverns. Same thing happens between the sexes as they mature, assuming some variation of the roles they were taught growing up. With me so far?
We have gone from one split, to two splits; parent/child and male/female. Multiply that by some arbitrary number of family units and you begin to see how diverse definitions of morals, values and ethics create a myriad of world views. Then what holds society together at all? Your peer group shares the same experiences you do; they were taught generally the same worldview you were taught; you all see the world in a vaguely similar way.
…the Boomer generation. There is even a split within the Boomer generation which very few talk about, in my experience. Let us get a bird’s eye view before we talk again about the Boomers. From the research of the Center for Generational Kinetics we find five generations in operation, influencing society as a whole, right now.
5. What are the primary generations today?
Currently, five generations make up our society. Each of those five generations has an active role in the marketplace. Depending on the specific workplace, the workforce includes four to five generations. Here are the birth years for each generation:
- Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 and later
- Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995
- Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976
- Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964
- Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before
My generation are Boomers, raised by Traditionalists or the Silent generation. We are often labeled as Traditionalists by Millennials and Centennials, our offspring however; we did and do not hold our parent’s view. This is the split in our generation; it is lazy and intellectually dishonest to ascribe to Boomers the label “traditional(ists).”
Well, now we are offended!
Sorry kids, you really do not have a leg to stand on here. The split in the Boomer generation happens with those born between about 1944-1953 and those born after to 1964. Here is why…
In 1963, the year President Kennedy was assassinated, the older Boomers were ages 20, oldest born during the war – 12, youngest born 1951. The oldest were entering college, youngest entering the age of peer influence. That sub-cohort were my influencers. They were the people forging ahead to upend everything society believed. The older were the beatnicks and bobby-soxers who became my college professors. The younger briefly became the hippies and squares, who had the most direct impact on our world view as peer influencers. We were still in elementary school when they were in Junior High and High school; we looked up to their example as we went into those grades.
By 1968, President Kennedy as well as former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and social, spiritual and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. all had been assassinated. As a result of the social upheaval, we not only consumed the Viet Nam War footage with dinner, we also consumed riots in various places like Los Angeles and Detroit for dessert. You cannot imagine the impact these events in the 6-10 years we were young, had upon us. Domestic violence on this scale had not happened since the Civil War and not before our eyes every night.(domestic violence in this context is violent social unrest, not spousal or child abuse, per se)
In addition to the domestic violence, there was the rise in drug addiction. By age 10 I was seeing weekly reports on the effects of heroin addiction. By age 15 we could find pot at $5 per 1/4 sandwich bag. It was not considered the best; it came up from Mexico, hence the name “Mexican.” The gold standard at that time was “Columbian.” Also easily available were; hash, peyote buttons, LSD, mescaline, opium – the smokable form of heroin and a cornucopia of prescription drugs from the medicine cabinet as well as horse tranquilizers.
The hippies were by then starting to realize their peace, love and a bunny rabbit lifestyle would not put a roof over their heads. Some were raising toddlers already. They needed real jobs with real, dependable income. They went back to the colleges they had dropped out of, or never went to, worked in factories like their parents or cobbled together service jobs plus whatever artistic forms of expression would pay the bills. By then the our parents were waking up to the fact half a generation were teetering; my half. They grabbed us by the scruff of our necks and shoved us into college or the fledgling trade schools and as a last resort the boys were fobbed off on Uncle Ned to learn drilling, construction, plumbing and the like. If we would not go or apply ourselves; they kicked us out of their houses “for our own good.” Sink or swim, boyos.
The whole cohort of Boomers are now between 50 and 75-ish. You can see the results; the traditionalist view of our parents holds a slim slice of the societal pie because we rejected their world view to a greater or lesser degree. We allowed prayer to be removed from school. The older of us passed Roe v. Wade, the younger took advantage of it and the pill. We forgot Watergate of 1972-74 as quickly as the shame of political embarrassment faded. We funded football, baseball, Disney Land, personal computing, cell phones to smart phones and a perpetual state of war from 1991 until today.
What happened to our nice lazy Sunday, philosophical discussion?
If you are Millennial or Centennial, you needed a refresher because we determined as a generation, you did not have to learn from history, you just had to spit out facts, get through school as efficiently as possible and get a job. If you are a Boomer, you needed a look in the mirror at what you by commission or omission, have wrought.
Oh, waaait a minute you might be saying. We were children, we had no influence or power. You may be saying, hey my kids were raised right! Fair enough, consider;
- You as children, wanted to go to Disney Land, sports events, to play sports, take dancing, cheerleading, or fill-in-the-blank lessons; all at the same time.
- You as parents gave in; you wanted a “better life” for your children than whatever you had.
Remember when as a child you had one nice outfit? One dress or suit? The “good” clothes you could not play football in? They were for holidays, weddings, graduation parties? Why did you buy seven for your children?
Remember when mom made banana bread or cake or cookies and that meant a “special occasion?” It was a treat? Why did you indulge your children in calorie laden, empty food?
Enough, what does that have to do with the song and your two points?
At some point our children look at us and say, “You don’t understand.” Behind our backs and more and more often to our face they tell us we are “old”, our values do not apply. Got news for ya; I experienced everything you did, plus made all the mistakes you cannot imagine yourself making…and learned from it. That is wisdom. My generation earned what we know, we try to give it to the next.
In the case of that someday between the lover and beloved; that day never comes. You either screw up your courage and take a leap of faith or you don’t. That is what our parents, grandparents and so on, did. We rejected that wisdom. We wanted “free love”, no strings, no obligations. What was the result of that? Our kids saw we did not value each other enough to ride out the rough spots. Subconscientiously they questioned, will they leave me too? They see the weakness in us that is our hypocrisy in the multiple marriages, or no-commitment relationships, the addictions and excuses we shove on them. They reject our wisdom.
To the second point I have been mulling this morning and the someday fallacy.
At some point lover turns to beloved and says, I am not what you believe I am, you must face that and see me for whom I am.
So too, parents must help their children understand who they are and who they are not. Momma’s boy must see her as an autonomous adult to be loved but not owned or depended upon for clean socks. He must lead his wife and family in righteousness tempered with compassion. Daddy’s little girl must mature into a woman who will set boundaries for her boys, tell the truth to her girls and be backed by a husband who values her strengths. Parents are human beings who chose at any given point along the time continuum, what they thought was right even when it turned out to be wrong. They reach a point, as Boomers are, where they have done what they can to fix mistakes and pass along wisdom. They are looking back and forward at the same time.
During the editing of this meander, I learned of the death of a friend. Someone with whom my children were childhood friends. The sum total of their experiences together have ended. One has gone on with what he or she has acquired of grace and mercy in life, mine remain to persevere.
As the lover needs to be seen as is, so to the parent or grandparent.
I am not the G.I. Joe, or Barbie you think I am. I am the one in the song, who has done their best, expended enormous amounts of time and strength to fix what I can and now I must have the courage to face my limitations.
Time is no longer a bottomless well from which Boomers can draw. Preserve what is wise and most valuable. Give it to your children if they want it and your grandchildren every day.
Comments and discussion are most welcome. A big Hello! to our subscribers and lurkers. If you do not know our comment policy, here it is…
Update: On May 9, 2018 a post was brought to our attention from Facebook. The post inspired a follow up article entitled, “Following the Gap.” Both are stand alone articles however; they follow each other so perfectly, jn14 is of the opinion there was a little Divine assistance. You be the judge; “Following the Gap”