I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what might be found under the broad and general heading of “exploring the cultural legacy of the generation born between Hiroshima and Dealey Plaza.”
My generation, in other words. The “boomers.”
There might be more to come on this broad and general topic. For now let me try to put these ruminations in the context of this week’s Big Story: You could comfortably argue that one of the “legacies” of my generation generation (I was born in 1950) is the now undeniably revealed practice of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that has finally and quite rightfully been described as “torture.”
You know, like we only see in movies…. NOT.
We think we are so civilized, with our running water and electricity, our motorized transports, our pockets full of gizmos, our elevated use of language and visual communications.
And yet, when fear takes center stage, as it did after 9/11, we devolve into practices that are positively medieval. We have met Ramsay Snow, and he is us.
And here’s the truly disturbing thing about these revelations from my perspective: these reprehensible practices were encouraged, sponsored, developed, and implemented by elements of the same generation that thought they were going to “Give Peace A Chance” (i.e. George W. Bush, born July, 1946).
This is the kind of paradox that can only be observed with a slap to the forehead and a loud “Whathefuckingfuck??”
And of course, I’d like to think that I, personally, am above such atrocities that are committed in the name of my safety and security. But the fact of the matter is that while all this was going on, Ann and I were avid fans of the TV show “24” – a program that went to great lengths every week to justify precisely the forms of conduct we are condemning now. You can’t help but feel that makes you complicit on some level.
The same generation that gave us “C’mon people now, smile on your brother.” has also given us water boarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation and the latest incomprehensible vulgarity to be injected into our vernacular – dare I say it? – “rectal feeding” – two words that should probably never been seen in the same sentence, let alone the same phrase.
How do you reconcile these contradictions, other than arriving at the conclusion that decades may pass, but ‘nothing really changes’ ?
Technology marches right along. The humans that create it still dwell – emotionally, at least – in caves.
I think my wife succinctly expressed the consternation – failure? – of my generation recently when, in response to some item in the recent news – ISIS, drones, some other malevolent force – she simply said, “you know, I really expected that by the time I got to this point in my life we’d have some kind of world peace…”
I think a lot of us expected that, in the 60s and parts of the 70s. And then the 80s came along and we all went off to Wall Street (or it’s Main Street equivalent).
On the one hand, I suppose I can argue that my generation laid the ground work for whatever progress has been made in civilization. On the other hand… well, just read a newspaper.
This is progress?
I don’t really have any answers. Sometimes you just have to take a few minutes and ponder the questions.
I wonder if any of my contemporaries are wondering the same things. C’mon, all you high-school classmates on Facebook… tell me: are you thinking about these things too?