Have We Baby Boomers Really Destroyed EVERYTHING?
Perhaps you read the article in the Boston Globe or via social media, “How The Baby Boomers Destroyed Everything” by Bruce Canon Gibney, a venture capitalist and writer and the author of the forthcoming book “A Generation of Sociopaths: How The Baby Boomers Betrayed America.” I was a bit appalled and amused; I thought, maybe the author really is just trying to sell books after burning out of the VC game. Then I thought, what if there is a little bit of truth in that assertion? What part of America’s (or the world’s) state of affairs are we boomers responsible for?
We do control much of America’s (and the worlds) institutions of power and wealth – at least outside of Silicon Valley, the land of the “unicorn” companies. What of that old saying, “to whom much is given, much is expected”; have we really measured up?
Wait a minute. Even if we reject the gross assertion of “destroying everything”, we can’t deny that much has gone wrong in this country. And, since we are closer to the end of our “runway” than the middle start, what are we going to focus on to leave the planet a bit better off than we found it?
I recall growing up in the 1960s and 1970s when trash littered every highway, rivers in most urban areas were assumed to be polluted, smog alerts in nearly all major cities were a regular occurrence. In the US at least, much has improved since then (assuming the current administration doesn’t foul things up). Those laws were enacted after the environmental movement – led by the boomers. Also civil rights and women’s rights, LGBT rights were all led by boomers. It made us much better as a nation.
So where have come up short? In the 1980’s, we did seem to fall in love with lower taxes and deregulation, offset by spending cuts on social programs (especially higher education), and ballooning fiscal deficits at the federal level. We also let public pensions become woefully underfunded (or was that over-promised?). We seemed to love getting tough on crime, just as the average age of the population was getting older, (hence less likely to commit violent crime), resulting in a prison population explosion. (Odd how the Baby Boom helped create the Prisoner Boom – subject for another day).
What can we do now? Is it too late? I feel that despite the current political winds in Washington DC, that we can still use the “gift of time” that modern medicine and clean water offered us (many of us will live well into our 80s and some our 90s). We are healthier (some may say “younger”) than our parents and grandparents at this age. How will we use this time? More importantly how will YOU do so?
Golf, Gardening and Grandkids won’t cut it. “The three G’s” (as I call them) are nice and even important, but is an inward focus the best way forward? Maybe we can start by honest and deep self-reflection. Maybe we can seek like-minded souls to talk about what needs to get done, make plans, and use our wealth to implement them. We certainly have done that in our careers and with our sometimes over-privileged kids. Perhaps we can take a balanced approach to work, volunteering, family and fun that allows us to focus on making things better, while we are still here.
Where to start? At The Platinum Years, we ask people to start with self-reflection and move to workshops or private coaching. We are not the only ones. There are some great books too: The Encore Career Guidebook is very good, “7 Principles for Living With Authenticity” is another. There is no reason to let younger folks get away with “blaming boomers” without countering arguments and actions. So, what are you willing to do to start making a difference?
If you would like s simple place to start thinking about your future and making a difference, please download chapter one of the book, 7 Principles For Living With Authenticity, by Jack Beauregard by clicking here or the image at left.