Your Vote Comes on the Backs of Others
“Even with all the racism in our faces, we remained optimistic as a people to work toward achieving a goal of greater diversity and equality for all. All”
Baby Boomers have been portrayed in many lights as the generation with increased educational, financial and social opportunities, and therein are often described as a generation of optimism, exploration and achievement. These particular defining characteristics crossed racial and ethnic lines compared with previous generations as a consequence of the times. Though the Boomer generation saw increasing social and economic equality, they also came of age in a period when the country was frequently torn by differing views on politics, war and social justice.
The Baby Boomer generation witnessed and participated in some of the greatest social changes in the country’s history during the 1960s and 1970s with the U.S. landing the first man on the moon, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Movement; the Vietnam War, political protests; and we would be remiss if we failed to mention the impact of the presidential assassination of John F. Kennedy, the assassinations of two major Black leaders Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy; counterculture hippies, sexual revolution, Motown changed the Black/White relationship to music, and the rise of the Black Power Movement. This generation experienced more dramatic shifts in educational, economic and social opportunities than any other to date.
The face of the workplace began evolving from a fairly racially homogenous, paternalistic environment to one of increased racial and gender diversity. With increased Black, Latino and female workers in place, the workplace slowly began to reflect the rapid political and social changes of the nation. This generation coined phrases such as the “glass ceiling” and the “equal opportunity workplace” and created jobs that began using personality profiles to build awareness of how to get along with all co-workers.
Even with all the racism in our faces, we remained optimistic as a people to work toward achieving a goal of greater diversity and equality for all. All this we pursued through our knowledge of how democracy worked, respect for others, a sense of decorum and social and professional etiquette.
We have been referred to as the ‘Me’ generation because of the differences in our behavior from that of our parents. We worked, saved, and spent our money differently and had fewer children in pursuit of a lifestyle.
We look at ourselves as possessing a strong work ethic, unafraid to put in a hard day of work, self-assured and independent, team-oriented, disciplined, competitive, goal-centric, resourceful, mentally focused yet compassionate and capable of empathy.
We value our democracy and freedom of speech and uphold the right to vote with the highest regard. So what happened and how did we manage to raise Millennials who we want to pretend raise themselves? Too often I hear us asking what happened. Then the long list of all that’s wrong with the Millennials is given. They are the Me, Me, Me generation, they’re lazy, entitled, and self-obsessed narcissists. They have also been described as open-minded, liberal, self-expressive, upbeat, and overtly passionate about equality.
That solves nothing and certainly doesn’t advance the agenda. However, I can see how and why they are how they are. We are all products of our time, our parents, communities, social status, education, etc. We emerge adults with the influence of all those elements of integrity and values intact or not. If you’re not taught, then you don’t know. It’s simple. All mammals must be taught how to survive in the world.
Make Children Understand
So here we stand at the next phase of the world’s future and we have youth — our children who we raised or didn’t raise, saying that they are not going to vote. We are most certainly responsible for that.
Now is the time to pull out all the stops and do your darnedest to convey what you have failed to communicate before. These children have to understand that they do not get to profit from the sweat of our brow, the labor of our sacrifice and sit on their short list of laurels at home (which may be a diploma or a BA earned on your dollar) and say, “Oh well, whatever!”
Let me share what a friend shared with me. My elected official friend’s son was an early Bernie supporter and never wavered in his support. He told his mother, “I’m not voting.”
She said, “Son, I can’t tell you how to vote, but you will vote. You will vote because the only reason you exist as you do; educated, son of two educated parents, middle class, well traveled, and articulate is because you stand on the shoulders and ride on the backs of those who looked into the future and said you ain’t heavy, you’re our future, free and self-determined, so they sacrificed no matter the cost, for some, their lives so that you can vote. The right to vote did not come free.
“Your father and I have sacrificed for you, our parents and their parents have all put in the work for you to have the life that you have. We were the spooks that walked through that door and found a cold, unyielding world. But here we stand firm for you. You will not ruin my future political aspirations because you think it’s OK to not vote. You will not give your power away because you think it’s in integrity. It’s not. It’s narcissistic.
“How dare you tell me that you will not vote and expect me to confront and face the world you choose by not voting and expect us to be there for you. So you will vote. You will return to this house with an ‘I voted sticker,’ or you will pack your things and leave.”
BAM! There it is.