Tom Brokaw wrote a book in 1998 called “The Greatest Generation”. As Brokaw wrote, “they came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America – men and women whose everyday lives of duty, honor, achievement, and courage gave us the world we have today.” He was speaking of my parents’ generation. Brokaw highlights that generation’s common purpose and common values – Duty, Honor, Courage, Service, Love of Family and Country, and above all, Responsibility for Oneself.
Our country experienced undeniable growth, wealth and pre-eminence in the world during this generation’s rise. They truly made the world a better place and witnessed their children have the opportunity to have a much better life than the one they grew up in. Having lived through hard times early in life they were determined to have better times for all. More importantly, they understood that values were critical in a civilized society.
I pondered the legacy of my generation compared to the Greatest Generation. Certainly you could point to the fantastic innovations we have created in the communications fields (computers, Internet, cell phones). And we have created many great products, buildings and services that make many people’s day-to-day lives better. But I cannot help thinking how empty we are in the values that are important in building a culture. “Duty and Honor”? We’ll leave that to our fine people in the Military. “Service”? That gets a lot of attention during a natural disaster like a tornado. But does anyone truly believe our elected officials – and the bureaucrats and lobbyists they work with – are dedicated to “Service”? What about “Responsibility for Oneself”? I think we have substituted “Excessive Adoration for Oneself” (narcissism). “Look at me” has become much more important than almost any act of value (just look at all of the reality shows we have).
So what will be the lasting moniker for the BabyBoomers?