I’ve been thinking today that our current political situation has us in a somewhat similar emotional state as the parents and children of the mid-to-late 1960’s must have encountered.
To clarify, I only mean the state of unease at an obvious generalized and uncontrollable shifting of political and social “reality”; a sort of seismic shifting underfoot that is made even more concerning because it can’t be explained, can’t be controlled, and can’t apparently be stopped.
Back then it was more recognizable as a generational divide. The parents of the WWII generation had no idea where their teenage kids were getting such oddball ideas, how they were coming by them while still living in the same neighborhoods they’d always occupied.
Realizing how large were the numbers involved, and just how many kids seemed to be undergoing this transformation to one degree or another, must have been extremely unsettling to the parents. Having finally established the peace and prosperity they so longed for during their previous trials and tribulations, it must also have seemed like being rudely cheated out of the “happily ever after” they thought they so much deserved. If these kids would eventually run their world, their world would be something yet unknown, once again.
Many of the kids themselves had had just about all they could take of strictures and rules, and life planned and prepared for them. You push someone into a corner and then continue to harass them long enough, and inevitably they will give up on any personal feelings of servitude to any structure that had not been their choice.
They would start to consider any new purpose, pursuit or concept worth exploring, as long as it doesn’t resemble the “status quo” of their parents values and beliefs. So their lifestyle decisions began to look like nothing their parents had ever imagined, because they were supposed to be that way.
The kids knew full well what safe “ledges” they had leapt from, and had their own discomforts and anxieties about it; there was nobody older to guide them through what no older person had ever tried or experienced. The chasm was just too wide. Fortunately they had been raised and educated well enough to provide each other safety in numbers; their parents did still own that much credit.
Nowadays it’s not so much a division between generations; all ages are suffering together the same discomforting sense of “social vertigo”, to varying degrees, but because of a common cause.
We are in pretty uncharted territory for America now, again, and people of all ages are struggling for some kind of anchoring memory of how it might have been resolved in the past, and not finding any in their lifetimes that suffice to give stability and comfort.
“Pass the Dramamine & barf bags all the way to the back; gonna be a long roller-coaster flight for all passengers!”…