I missed most of what went along with the Love Generation back in the 60’s.
But on the seminal issues of the day – Vietnam and our screwed up-fouled up-polluted world – I recall that when it came to laying blame, many of us – me included – pointed our fickle fingers at the most likely culprits: the generation before us. How could it possibly be us young, hep cats as the root cause of all the problems? We were to be the saviors of our planet, our globe. And we told people so.
Well, guess who’s pointing the fingers now. And guess who’s on the receiving end? It leaves little to the imagination as to who is far less smug than they were 50 years ago.
But the pointing is, well, pointless. A look into our collective crystal ball will likely show that when the Millenniums come of age, the generation that succeeds them will doubtless wag their fingers, too. As will the generation(s) after that.
It amounts to generational buck passing. Youthful exuberance and verve melts away to generational inertia. As our problems mount in terms of pollution, energy stupidity, and an overheated planet, humankind flunks the resolve test. What we know to be true as problems become muddled in public discourse. While Rome burns, we idle.
We become engulfed by the Big Picture. This makes it all to easy for us to forget the lessons of prior generations – and our own lofty promises – as we push the solutions ahead of us. But when we default on our environmental obligations – owing to jobs or economics or to sheer expedience – we deny the brink on which we stand. Or perhaps we are looking down into our open grave.
I know I distill things to a level I can comprehend – i.e. I pick up litter and trash on my daily walks because removing debris is something within my control. I can get my arms around that.
To hell, though, with the larger pontifications of my generation and the others before and after us. I am the only one who can control the environmental reality that is within my grasp: removing junk, recycling, and consuming fewer resources to the degree that I can.
Yes, my generation has failed miserably on the environment, as did the generations before me and predictably those that come after us. So it is time to downsize the conversation and the commitment to a more manageable scope. It becomes a generation of individuals. It boils down to you and it boils down to me. We are the only ones who can honor our end of the environmental bargain. Perhaps then the sum total of this generation of one can add up to what others who come behind us can emulate.