Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Boomers: The Real Greatest Generation?

The Washington Post published a piece on February 19th titled Boomers: The Real Greatest Generation. What follows is a letter I wrote to The Washington Post in response to this piece. What do you think?

I take offense to Leonard Steinhorn’s recent opinion piece titled Boomers: The Real Greatest Generation. As the Executive Director of an organization whose mission is to ‘create a world that values all generations’ I feel this type of intergenerational warfare is counterproductive. We are all different pieces to a puzzle that is the greatest generation.
It is up to older adults to provide the care and guidance to encourage young people to change the world. The children and youth in turn provide the inspiration to the seniors to keep fighting the good fight and to not give up hope.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” A case for the Greatest Generation could certainly be made for Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Hamilton, and the other revolutionaries. Don’t get me wrong, Woodstock was cool, but the Bill of Rights is pretty high on the list.

Mr. Steinhorn’s stereotype of the World War II and the Korean Conflict generation’s as being racist and homophobic is unfair. In addition to the brave and important work they did in their youth, this generation has committed tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time with a diverse population of children and youth in schools and community centers all across America. There are many in this age bracket who continue to work to make the world a better place despite their advancing age.

The boomers will pick up this benevolent torch and continue with what has been an outstanding contribution to our society as all 80 million strong begin to leave the traditional workforce. There is a stereotype of the Boomers as having sold out to corporate America following the dawn at Woodstock. It is up to them to inspire young people with the skills learned from Martin Luther King, JR., the marches on Washington, and the moon landing. Who knows? You may even learn something about your own prejudices in the process.

2 comments:

paul arfin said...

donna,
i also take offense at the comparative/competitive nature of the article and the book "the greater generation." i did however find steinhorn's description of 1960s efforts to change attitudes and institutions consistent with those that I experienced. I wish the book had documented the good and bad impact of the 1960s without promoting comparisons with Brokaw's "Greatest Generation." Each left good and bad legacies to future generations.
Paul Arfin

Donna said...

Paul, thanks for your comment. I agree and was reminded of this when I spoke with a reporter last week who was asking the same questions adults have asked about the coming generations for centuries. It's not so much good and bad as different and there is no going back. Take care.