A Boomer's Mea Culpa to the Class of 2013
In an earlier column I took Baby Boomers to task for the way in which the ideals of their youth had morphed into shallow, narcissistic consumerism in their golden years. The column initiated a number of lively comments among boomers who took offense to my characterization of them. Their reaction was strong enough that I found myself mentally composing responses of my own to add to the mix but they all seemed to center around some variation of "...but some of my best friends are boomers!" which didn't seem helpful, so I decided to hold off on adding any more fuel to the fire.
But when a reader sent me a link this past week to an interesting column at Bloomberg.com by renowned Yale Law professor, author and card-carrying boomer Stephen L. Carter I thought it was worth revisiting the topic. His essay "To the Class of 2013: Resist Simplicity" is an open letter of sorts to this year's college graduates in which he criticizes his generation from a different angle: "...your great challenge is to regain the high ground my generation once championed and has long forgotten: the freedom to think for yourselves."
Carter's point is well taken. Our inability to deal with increasingly complex ideas can't be sustained in this day and age. Two dimensional thinking doesnt do justice to the multi-dimensional world we currently live in.
"We live in the era of groupthink, when to disagree is to be tagged as either wicked or stupid -- either way, as part of the enemy" says Carter. "We baby boomers marched on campus in the 1960s and ’70s for the right to make up our own minds, but now that we hold positions of power, we seem to view opposition or even criticism as dangerous. And yet, given the complexities of the modern world, there has never been a time when thinking for yourself is more vital."
Carter's article is well worth reading. But to the more sensitive boomer readers out there...please don't think I'm trying to pile on...trust me, I'm not, in fact, some of my best friends...