The Millennial generation seems to believe that all of the national and world problems are the fault of the Baby Boomer generation’s unabated greed in accepting Social Security and Medicare. Really? Do we not get credit for paying into these insurance programs for our entire working careers?
Ignoring that unwarranted attack, consider the world the Boomer generation inherited – a nuclear-tipped Cold War, the consequences of imperial expansion and cultural genocide, the destruction of a highly-efficient rail system in favor of cars, the depletion of forests and other precious resources, as well as the near-extinction of the American Bison, Bald Eagles and other wildlife species.
Like generations before us, rather than accept the world we inherited, many of us have tried hard to improve it. It was the Boomer generation that was responsible for the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the fight for LGBTQ rights. We fought for the disabled to create the American Disabilities Act. And many of us rebelled against our own government to end the brutal and unnecessary war in Vietnam.
Our generation created human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many participated in the Peace Corps to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
The Baby Boomer generation fought for zero population growth and access to contraceptives in order to end over-population and the resultant stress on our planet’s limited resources. We helped create the Environmental Protection Agency to end the widespread dumping of chemicals into our water and air – a practice so prevalent the Cuyahoga River actually caught fire thirteen times! We fought for anti-littering laws. We fought to expose the dangers of cigarettes, trans fatty acids, asbestos, DDT and other dangerous products. We created recycling programs. And, once we were made aware of the problem, many of us have fought to replace fossil fuels in order to reduce our population’s impact on the climate.
We popularized health and fitness awareness. We fought for product labeling to list the ingredients in processed foods. Led by Ralph Nader, we created the National Transportation Safety Board to make our cars safer. Indeed, we created safety standards for most of the products sold in the US. We fought against the clear-cutting of forests; against the hunting of endangered wildlife.
As a boomer, I’m proud of our many successes…even many of our failures. Because I believe time will show that many of us were on the right side of history. Could we have done better? Of course. And not all of us have been willing to fight the good fights. We are, after all, the generation that includes Donald Trump.
For that, I am truly sorry!