My daughter and son-in-law went on a Kenya/Tanzania safari this year. He was delightedly snapping pictures of all those beautiful exotic animals, she wanted to jump out of the vehicle and hug them all, or bring them back to her home had she been allowed to do so!
My friend Aniseh went on a tour to India, Riham went to Nice, France and Suad took a cruise to Alaska. I am in a lovely rental house at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (Book Lovers: “The Versions of Us” by Laura Barnett, and “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” by Liane Moriarty are a light, amusing and interesting “Zen” summer read).
During the fifties, sixties and early seventies, all of us “vacationers” would have been disdainfully classified as The Bourgeoisie. Fast forward to our present decade and some of the Millennials, disgusted with their parent’s – our children’s and our – consumerism, uppity-ness and stress levels in pursuit of careers and exorbitant mortgages, are throwing that same classification (using different terminology) at us! Ahh! How the more things change, the more they stay the same!
In fact, though, there is a ring of truth to their disdain. On the one hand, we are all enjoying our Bourgeois lifestyles and, on the other hand, we are very concerned about all the Progressive issues: war, poverty, climate change, equality, compassion, justice etc. etc. It does all seem contradictory – maybe even hypocritical – in the socialist/communist nomenclature of the fifties and sixties, as well as in the progressive lexicon of many of today’s Millennials. Maybe they would prefer us to be toting our knapsacks and protesting somewhere, or joining one of the many demonstrations going on all the time, or, better yet, getting shackled by the police and hauled off to jail in order to display our commitment to the many causes threatening our planet? There are many brave hearts across the generational spectrum doing exactly that, and they deserve all our respect and support.
I can understand where the Millennials are coming from, though. I was like them in the sixties and seventies, sneering at consumerism; disdaining possessions; abhorring my parents’ snobbish airs and espousing grassroots “causes” that made me feel “anything but ordinary!” Many of my generation were, at that time, as conceited about our superior causes as our parents were about their snobbish lifestyles! Whereas during my activist years I was convinced of my “anything but ordinary” status as I protested, demonstrated, and espoused all those outré causes that were anathema to my Bourgeois parents, today’s Millennial activists feel exactly the same “anything but ordinary” about their causes, and I have a feeling that they will do even better than we did. Hopefully!!
So, what in fifty/sixty years has changed? Not much in this regard, eh?
I have this blog wherefrom I generally spout out my fury at all the awful politicians and the terrible political stuff going on in our world, and I am very proud of my work. I publish my opinions on this public forum that anyone in the vast world can access. So do Millions of other bloggers and writers! Therefore, to think of myself nowadays as “anything but ordinary” is total smug self-delusion. The same applies to every single author of a blog, an essay, an op-ed piece, a journalistic article, a book, or a writer of anything. And that’s why it never ceases to surprise, amaze and befuddle me that most of them come across as believing in their uncontested earned right to be arrogant and conceited. I have news for all of them: Your compatriots fifty/sixty years ago were much less arrogant and much closer to ordinary humble citizens and their real concerns.
My generation championed Peace, Love, Civil Rights and Political Struggles, Women’s Liberation, Consumerism and anti-Colonialism amongst other issues. Today’s Millennial activists aren’t that different, are they? Peace is still elusive and still their cause, although it sometimes feels like a pipe-dream; Love seems to be having an Identity Crisis (like many other values) and at a loss of whether it is that selfless, giving, responsible emotion, or that fleeting morally confused state of lust and sexual encounters; Civil Rights, whilst enshrined in the laws of most advanced nations, are still almost non-existent for minorities, the under-privileged, immigrants and refugees; Political Struggles are still ongoing and for much the same reasons; Women’s Liberation, while it has changed quite a lot, is still far from fulfilling its calling as rape continues, prostitution thrives, wage discrepancies persevere, discrimination goes on and sexual objectification has become a sport that some of our young females willingly participate in; Colonialism, in its modern hypocritical form of a call to “Democracy and Freedom,” marches on as the Advanced Nations of the world maintain their usurpation of resources worldwide while the usurped continue to demand freedom, justice and equality; Consumerism is apace as we overfill our closets, pantries, our supermarkets, our pools and golf courses and . . . hug a tree at the end of the day?
Yes, little has changed, it seems. Those specialists who know trends better than myself seem to agree that it will take decades more – if ever? – before we begin to see honest, conscientious politicians and leaders addressing the core issues of humanity. Meanwhile, many of us who were/are activists of the World War II/Baby Boomer/Gen-X/Millennial Generations will continue to protest and to feel that our causes and issues make us “anything but ordinary.” Unfortunately, most people across the generations have chosen to sit it out and be Armchair Activists while leaving the tackling of our myriad problems to others. However, unless there is a groundswell of citizens demanding the drastic and urgent changes that our world needs, we will continue on the path of incremental adjustments, while our planet becomes more perilous by the hour.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and drizzle your tan with a hefty dose of guilt, as well as a prayer of thanks that we can afford to be enjoying a vacation. We are quite privileged . . . and . . . quite . . . Bourgeois . . . though for how long I cannot promise any of us as our planet continues to heat up in every aspect!?