Opinion » Viewpoint

Baby Boomers and the Parkland Activists



"Our brains change as we grow older" declares a commercial for a nutritional supplement claiming to slow memory loss. Apparently, there are thousands of Baby Boomers who may need to order this product by the gross since they are obviously suffering from some type of memory loss. 

Whether it's from age-related memory loss or selective memory loss, some folks over 55 these days seem to have completely forgotten the years of their own youth. Possibly, they flat-out can't remember their young-adult years because they burned up too many brain cells partaking of a different kind of "supplement" back then.

Whatever the reason, the reactions of many of them to the young victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting have been contemptible.

Is it the slouch to authoritarianism that has caused the children of the 1960s to turn truth inside out and upside down in their defense of the marauding grifter known as Donald Trump? Perhaps it's growing tribalism or plain old, rank hypocrisy.

It's unclear exactly what has caused it. However, when I hear my peers acknowledging their (still) undying support of Trump's disgusting lies without any better explanation than "Because he's making America Great Again," I have to laugh. This is coming from the generation who listened to John Lennon sing "All I want is the truth"!

A few weeks ago, a friend posted a rather long summary of her thoughts on Facebook regarding the Florida school shooting and how inspired she was by the students' ability to take immediate action by organizing, marching, and challenging lawmakers. In describing her admiration for their unrelenting determination to change gun laws, she said it reminded her of the days of her own youth and the Vietnam War protests. Most replied with shared sentiments, however, there were some reactions that were both astonishing and reprehensible.

One woman, a grandmother of five, went on a rambling rant about how "disgraceful" and "poor mannered" the students were. She stooped to calling them "rude little brats who needed to shut the hell up." Another, a retired teacher, posited that if any of the Stoneman Douglas students had been one of her students, she'd have "slapped them right across the face for being so disrespectful to authority."

Yet another commented about watching the televised town hall that took place days after the shooting and described her outrage over the way the teens interacted with Florida senator Marco Rubio. "In my day," she declared, "we would've been told to have some respect and stop talking to adults that way."

Out of curiosity, I looked up their profiles on Facebook. All, predictably, had "liked" Donald Trump. Interestingly, they had also "liked" Boomer music such as Bob Dylan, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Motown. This got me to wondering. Did these people not actually ever understand the words to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?"  

The memories of older Americans haven't  been lost so much as they've  been infected by the insidious propaganda of Fox News, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, and other fanatical influences that have caused them to forget what it's like to be young and full of righteous anger over historical events that have occurred due to circumstances totally out of their control. Instead, they are now old and full of self-righteous anger over historical events that they helped create. In the words to the Boomer anthem "For What It's Worth" — "paranoia strikes deep; into your life it will creep." 

Instead of "live shooter" drills, students of the 1960s practiced "civil defense" drills requiring them to duck and cover under their desks as protection from an imagined strike by our enemies, the Russians. Astonishingly, that same generation has now embraced a man who — as evidence is increasingly showing — has colluded with the Russians to rig our elections and allow their influence in our government. 

Recently, Cameron Kasky and David Hogg, two of the young Florida activists, were guests on a cable show. They founded the #NeverAgain movement hours after the shooting and have quickly become high profile. When asked what he thought of adults, particularly older adults, Cameron Kasky, said, "To all the generations before us, we sincerely accept your apology and appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you f**ked up."  

Instead of being vilified, the kids in Florida, should be commended and encouraged. Hopefully, most of us haven't forgotten what it's like to be young and passionate about wanting to change what's wrong in the world. May we never forget that young people are our future, and with smart, determined youth like these teenagers, the future is looking pretty bright.

Cheri DelBrocco is a frequent contributor to the Flyer.

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