Cal & The Boomers
From Today’s “In The Bleachers” comic:
In this morning’s Dallas Morning News there was an article by
Cal Thomas (published on Oct. 20 in The Washington Times. It was about him finding out that he’s in a minority now as a white, married male. It’s really about how society is de-valuing marriage.
He lists the causes as he sees them, and the usual suspects are rounded up: The media apparently glorifies living together and celebrities who fornicate; families are having fewer children, if they even stay together; the social pressure to get married has now dissipated; how you can now get rich off infamy; how churches don’t teach about marriage & divorce; and even Kanye West gets into the act because you can’t print his lyrics in the paper.
Don’t get me wrong, Cal. There’s a bit of truth to each of those areas. But here’s where you lost me, in pinpointing the crux of it all: “Life is all about me, the defining characteristic of this generation.”
The defining characteristic of this generation?
Hello, kettle. This is the pot. You’re black.
Seems to me that all generations have been selfish in American history, Cal. Yes, even the over-hyped and over-blown “Greatest Generation”–who, might be just that, depending on how you measure it. So, if you’re measuring it by winning a war and building our economy–pretty good. If you’re measuring it by the “fruit” in the children they raised–pretty bad.
Same for the Baby Boomers, Cal–of which you are a part. They did some fantastic things with free speech and freedom and silly societal mores–definitely good. Politically & corporately, well, they’ve thrown a pretty pricey financial party and had the benefits, but will ask future generations to pay the credit card bill–kinda bad.
My own Generation X is in this, too. We’ve done some pretty good things regarding working to live rather than living to work–pretty good. We’ve not done too well in taking leadership in government and business which will have untold consequences down the road–definitely bad.
My point is this, Cal. Society is always contrarian to Judeo-Christian mores. At times worse than others, at times more “family friendly.” Our founding fathers having love children with their, ahem, “workers” doesn’t exactly have the ring of holiday fun around the Christmas tree does it? Each generation has it’s own good things to look at and they each have their skeletons in the closet.
And, yes, you did mention (albeit briefly) that “This decline into minority status for people like me is also partly the fault of people like me.” But you followed that up with how your generation was bent on making money and acquiring things. Sounds a bit…
So, let me tell you a few things about this generation that you might need some help on:
First, they don’t really buy into the media, Cal. Sure, they watch a lot of it and it may influence their slang or their dress or even get into what’s “cool.” But hey, who could watch “MTV Cribs” and not want that really cool big screen television with surround sound? But they understand something about media manipulation and get pretty clearly that all that glitters is not gold. So, even if they see couples breaking up, they don’t view it as “cool” or even “normal.” They see it as entertainment news. They don’t make personal philosophies based on it.
Secondly, the families having fewer children and waiting later to get married is actually a good thing, Cal. One I would think Boomers would admire. I mean, that “social stigma” to get married in your early 20’s and have a bunch of kids is likely one of the contributing factors to the divorce rate. If this generation is going to get married, it’s because they love somebody and want to spend the rest of their life with them. Not because it’s the most convenient person they liked a lot when they turned 21, dated for a year and then got to marrying age. And, the reason they wait later to have kids and have them in smaller numbers? A shaky corporate climate and an understanding of the gravity & responsibility of having a child might have more to do with it than selfishness. Oh, yeah. That equal pay for equal work thing your generation faught for regarding women in the workforce–that’s a very good thing–and now women have the choice to be self supporting–another very good thing. But it affects when a woman may choose to get married. I’m okay with that.
Finally, about the clergy: Ever tried to enact church discipline in this day and age? Suffice to say that “dismissing from fellowship” has no effect on a believer in our culture. They simply go to a megachurch down the road and continue to do what they want. You can teach to any subject, and money is never a consideration–at least in my church–and we even have a “position paper” readily available addressing our congregation’s stance on divorce and remarriage. Most churches I’m aware of have the same.
So, Cal, with all due respect (hey, I’m a consistent reader and actually own one of your books), you know what this is about?
And my “selfishness” as a parent.
Am I going to be the type of parent who teaches my kid the value of critical thinking, whether it’s the media or me or the teacher? Am I a critical thinker?
Am I going to be the type of parent who lives within my means and teaches my child the value of a buck and the foolishness of “stuff?”
Am I going to be the type of parent who really loves my wife and enjoys my marriage and my family or are they going to be another thing to check-off on my to-do list so I can then be free to pursue my hobby? In other words, will my kids have a positive view of the institution of marriage–that it can be “real” and “til death do us part?”
Am I going to be the type of parent who lives our my religious belief in a philosophically consistent way? Does it mean as much to me when I watch football or drive or buy groceries or discipline them as it does on Sundays and Wednesdays?
Ultimately, Cal, am I going to be a person who truly realizes that life is not at all about me?
Because, like the cartoon above, I think it’s the parenting skills of GenX that will define whether or not we’re a great generation. Because parenting is really the issue as I see it. Are we going to live out before them what we say we truly believe? It’s not about making sure Johnny gets the right call in sports or manipulates a system to get into a good college or protecting them or any of that stuff.
Parenting is about serving and doing the most loving thing for your child in any given moment. Nothing more is required. Nothing less will suffice.
And even though you didn’t ask, Cal, that’s where the problems and the solutions lie on this isse, IMHO.