Father Knows Best

Tom Shugart gently challenges my assertion that American Boomers have disappointingly little to teach us. He writes:

Maybe we don’t have very much to teach because we were so
rejectionist toward our elders that we feel it would be hypocritical
to be didactic toward you. From our own experience, perhaps
we feel strongly that each generation has to make its own way.

Everything changes so fast now! What the hell do we have
to tell you except our own stories, as honestly as we can.
Honesty we value, and honesty is, IMHO, what we managed
to pass on. You guys are a beautiful, living example of it!

I’m touched. There’s truth to it. Previous generations learned to see themselves as grown-ups, and as parents, very quickly. Ingrid Bergman was 23 when she made Casablanca, but she wore clothes her mother would have worn and carried herself the dignity of a forty-year-old matron. Fifties and Sixties teenagers, on the other hand, were the first generation not to identify themselves early as responsible adults with a duty to instruct their youngers. I thought it hadn’t occured to them that it was part of their remit to tell us what to do. But Tom reminds me that that may have been a deliberate choice, and that this freedom may be their best gift to us.

Do check out Tom’s post on hearing Rock Around The Clock for the first time, by the way. There ain’t nothin’ like a guitar riff for sealing the identity of a generation.

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