A message to the graduating class

Being of the generation that had to take the stage after the “Greatest Generation” was tough. Boomers take a lot of heat, and truthfully, with some justification. We are famously entitled and a little self-absorbed. Plus there is our vast (though slowly diminishing) number.

Archive Photo of the Day: Deidre Kelly, SUNY Potsdam

Archive Photo of the Day: Deidre Kelly, SUNY Potsdam

We have never been a unified cadre, however, and seem determined to carry our disagreements to the grave – beyond, if possible. The longer I see the political cycle seesaw back and forth between one vision of America that is rooted in the 1950s and an opposing one that is rooted in the 1960s, the more I think the current chaotic scene is all our fault. (Thinking everything is all about us is another hallmark of the boomer mindset.)

But the culture wars that took fire in our youth have long stalemated; the sides have instead dug in to elaborate trench and bunker complexes from which to launch random barrages and bloody but fruitless mass charges.

At this point, 50-60 years into combat, we see each other across an ever-widening no man’s land, as hardened in our respective points of view as Arabs and Israelis or North and South Korea.

If a grizzled warrior can offer advice to those who came after, it’s this. Pick neither the ’50s nor the ’60s. Both visions have flaws and virtues largely invisible to the opposing sides and those visions bear less and less resemblance to what actually was over time. Become your own team. Build a vision rooted in the present and unfolding into the future. It’s time to graduate from boomer America.


4 Comments on “A message to the graduating class”

  1. Richard L Daly says:

    Dale, although born in ’44, may I reserve a place in you boat to the future? It can be lonely left on-shore … again. 🙂

  2. Eric Thacher says:

    I belong to neither of the groups about which you wrote. So I will ask what to you may seem a dumb question: what are the specific characteristics and philosophies of the two groups – particularly the political characteristics and philosophies.

  3. Dale Hobson says:

    Eric asks: What are the specific characteristics and philosophies of the two groups – particularly the political characteristics and philosophies? I fear I’m the wrong person to ask if you want a balanced answer. I’ve been in the trenches too long. But there are many articles and sources on the origins of the current mix of progressive and conservative, libertarian and statist, socialist and capitalist threads in American thinking and how they arose and clashed in the last half of the 20th century, and how they feed the ongoing political conflicts in America today.

    It’s far from a dumb question, but it needs much more than 300-word column and a comment to answer. And it should probably come from someone outside the perspective of a boomer.

    But I wonder if you really do stand outside the two groups I describe. Part of the problem I see is that boomers have dragged the succeeding generations into their fights instead of letting them find a fight of their own, let alone a consensus for moving forward in peace.

    Dale Hobson, NCPR

  4. Pete Klein says:

    This is a bit off topic but this seems like a good place to mention a grip I have that probably is the fault of Boomers. It’s what they call Classic Rock.
    Problem is, Classic Rock does not begin with the English Invasion. True Classic Rock should be seen as starting in and and Rock Around the Clock. Rock started in the early 50’s, not in the mid-60’s.
    Concerning the mid-60’s my dislike for protesters, even those I tend to agree with, stems from the holier than thou protesters of the 60’s.

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