Thursday, September 1, 2016

There are no Millenials - column, 1 September 2016

Lawrence Hall

There are no Millennials

After the Second World War the surviving soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guard, and Marines came home to their wives and girlfriends, and then they, well, you know, resulting in a high birth rate. Years later someone said this event was a “baby boom.” Thus, children born to World War II veterans were labelled “baby boomers” and then simply “Boomers,” usually as a pejorative. Everything that was wrong in the world was said to be the fault of Boomers, who were insolent, indolent, ungrateful, self-indulgent, disrespectful, and un-American – even those 2,000,000 Boomers who fought in South Viet-Nam, North Viet-Nam, Cambodia, and Laos, and the 60,000 Boomers who were killed there because the young officers of 1941-1945 forgot their lessons as they grew grey and decided that the casual disposal of young lives in undeclared wars would be a good idea.

Some sources define a Boomer as anyone born between 1946 and 1964. Accepting this definition, a baby born at 11:59 P.M. on the 31st of December 1945 is not an evil Boomer, but one born at 12:01 A.M. on the 1st of January in 1946 is. A child born just before midnight on the 31st of December 1964 is a bad, bad Boomer, and a child born just after midnight on the 1st of January 1965 is a God-fearin’ John Wayne American standing straight and tall.

You remember John Wayne – he played Yankee Doodle American police officers, fire fighters, pilots, soldiers, and sailors in the moving pictures, but never did any of those things for real.

Why isn’t there a movie about the life of Dorie Miller?

As with all forms of stereotyping, condemning people because of their dates of birth is illogical.

The new targets of chronological prejudice are Millennials, who of course aren’t Millennials at all, but individual children of God who happened to have been born on…wait…when?

In 1987 William Strauss and Neil Howe (both Boomers) wrote academic research about the identity group whom they were the first to label as Millennials, and for them this centered on the children who would graduate from high school in the year 2000. Thus, by the original meaning, the only millennials are those who happened to have walked across a stage in May or June of 2000.

William Strauss also wrote academic research about Viet-Nam veterans, though he was never in Viet-Nam himself. How cool is that.

Millennials in their turn are said to be insolent, indolent, ungrateful, self-indulgent, disrespectful, and un-American – even those killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and every other Whosedumbideawasthisistan because the young officers of 1964-1970 forgot their lessons as they grew grey and allowed civilians who missed that whole Indo-China thing to bully them into the casual disposal of more young lives in more undeclared wars.

Resume’ enhancement and medals for the desk commandos, body-bags for the desert fighters.

All the futile arcana of Boomer / Gen X / Gen Y / Millennial is no more relevant than conversational Klingon. Let it go. As C. S. Lewis says in Prince Caspian, we are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, and that is glory enough and shame enough.

Anyway, when it comes to being narcissistic and self-centered, I stand alone. So to speak.

The background noise you hear comes from my fellow Boomers rattling their walkers, false teeth, and oxygen tanks in disapproval of Millennials – those lazy Millennials who are now our doctors, nurses, builders, police officers, oil drillers, fire fighters, pilots, chemists, engineers, attorneys, and on and on.

But I must go – there is a John Wayne movie on the telescreen. I can recite the dialogue in Rio Bravo from memory, but I don’t want to miss it anyway.


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