I know Baby Boomers. My folks are Baby Boomers. I work with Baby Boomers. I’ve listened to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, fucking Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’ve seen The Godfather and The Graduate; I’ve watched that scene in High Fidelity where Dick shits on The Big Chill and mostly understood what they were talking about.
And it’s this deep knowledge of Baby Boomers that allows me to say: you can do better. Below is a pledge that every Baby Boomer should take publicly, to signify a ceremonial transition into modern adulthood.
Not that I recommend modern adulthood, what with all the no pensions and expensive healthcare and student loans and stagnant wages– not that you guys would know anything about that!– but we all have to grow up eventually.
“The Baby Boomer Pledge”:
- I am entitled to nothing.
- I will not allow a rigid emphasis on physical attendance obscure my ability to determine effective performance.
- I will think before I speak, always being conscious of the fact that my life experience is not the same as life experience.
- I will learn to pick my battles.
- When I don’t get my way, I will learn to roll with it.
- I will not assume that something I don’t understand is something that is unimportant.
- I will make a concerted effort to learn new things.
- I will stop asserting that culture I prefer is categorically superior to other cultures. I like what I like; other people like what they like.
- Nothing is beneath me.
- When I vote, and I will vote, I will consider the medium and long term impacts of policy proposals and not just the short term.
- I will not lecture people who are looking for work about how to look for work, especially if the last time I looked for work was prior to 1996.
- If, as a young person, I enjoyed smoking cheap cigarettes, driving on cheap gas, and buying a new home in my 20s, I will shut the fuck up about modern young people who buy iPhones, drink good coffee, and pay city rents. I too would have hated austerity scolds.
- I will look into that program where I can help kids in other countries learn English.
- I will remind myself that for society to function effectively, we must prioritize the needs of children above the needs of the elderly.
- When I see young active duty military, I won’t salute them or go buy an American flag t-shirt. I will talk to them and thank them for their service and offer any help I can. Then I will lay siege to my Congressperson to fix the goddamn VA.
- I will remind myself that lecturing young people about 401(k) contributions while pulling a defined benefit pension is an excellent way to appear out of touch.
- I will consider the backgrounds of the people who make the media I consume. If it is entirely homogeneous, I will find and consume at least one piece a month by a different kind of person. I don’t have to start big; I could begin as simple as renting The Hurt Locker or Selma and seeing where that takes me.
- Again, nothing is beneath me.
- I will not fight social progress all the way into the ground. I can clearly see that gay marriage is the future, so I will get on board. The same goes for not being racist.
- I will work to make my church do the same.
- When I get my way, I will be grateful and not assume I will always get my way.
- I will fight the urge to drift to the conspiratorial right based on poorly formatted emails and credulous news stories that cannot be corroborated in the “lame stream media.”
- I will really learn how to text because my grandchildren communicate that way and that needn’t be a barrier to our relationship.
- I will always remember Aristotle’s quote: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
- Before supporting candidates who ache for war, I will consider how I would feel were I of service age.
- When I see them, I will make a point to first hug my children and tell them I love them. Especially if they are struggling.
- I will retire from the full time paid workforce regardless of what I might gain from sticking it out one or two or three more years. The benefits to young people of my moving on far outweigh the benefits of my adding that extra five percent.
- If I am physically able, I will continue to work full time– as a volunteer helping a cause that will better the future.
- I will continue to use things I like– physical newspapers, alarm clocks, live broadcast TV– for no other reason than because I like them and because they bring me joy.
- If my children cannot make it back home for the holidays and I have the resources to put on a good meal, I will contact local military bases, battered women’s shelters, or other places where people may be alone and offer to celebrate with them.
- I will learn to laugh at everything, especially myself.