Did our generation fail at saving the world?

We were all about peace and love in the 70s, but did that huge movement do anything? It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that no, our push for a more peaceful world did nothing and has gone nowhere. If anything, we have done a complete 180. But is it really the baby boomer generation’s fault? We take a look at three opinions on the subject.

Britain’s most prominent radical Tariq Ali came out last week saying that baby boomers have failed to deliver their vision of a more peaceful world.

Ali was a Marxist icon in the 1960s who made friends with John Lennon and battled with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

“I think we were defeated, it wasn’t just that we failed, our enemies proved more intelligent in some cases and more brutal in others, so we lost that battle and that battle is now being resumed,” Ali told broadcaster Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne.

So do we need fresher, younger leaders? Faine suggested that people in their 20s and 30s should take on leadership roles.

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Ali agreed and gave the example of 20-year-old Scottish politician Mhairi Black, who he believes is inspiring a new generation.

“(Mhairi Black) enters parliament and makes a speech which has the whole country enthralled,” Ali said.

“Scotland is now inspiring young people in England…This hasn’t happened in English politics for a very long time”.

Turning his attention to Australian politics, Ali told News Corp, “Since Gough Whitlam there has not been any party that has challenged the establishment (in Australia) in any way”.

Starts at 60 blogger, Fran, wrote this to us:

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“I came across a post from a young friend of mine –

Sally: “Australians used to be known for being chill and fun, now we’re known for being racist with a bit of homophobia chucked in for good measure”

Fred: Our generation isn’t the problem I think though, we accept everyone”

Sally: “I agree our generation isn’t the root of the problem, hopefully when our gen are running things, we’ll see a bit more progress. I do think everyone’s gotta take some of the blame instead of calling it a generation problem and waiting for it to pass”

Fred: “I’m not taking the responsibility of some old fogey who can’t stand the thought of a man and another man getting married. They’re the ones standing in the way of progress”

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The conversation went on to discuss how our generation don’t want faster internet and want all refugees sent back. Some of Sally and Fred’s generation think like that only because it’s what we have taught them. They went on to say that their generation was fine but they couldn’t wait for “old ass CEOs and the Abbotts” of this country to retire so they could “run this sh*t”.  

This conversation was apparently instigated from something President Obama had said about Australia. Now others joined in on the conversation and went on to say how we had not really done anything over the years to make this a better place. I have known this now 20-something young lady over 10 years and found her to be intelligent and fair and I also have met Fred. I started  to wonder if this is how the younger generation sees us?

Are they that disgusted with this country or are they that naive to think that at this tender age, most of them having only voted once or twice, most of them having never been outside their own social circle or home town, are experienced or capable enough to make these statements? Do they really think it is that easy or we have been that stupid? With this attitude, will the next generation do a better job than we did or will they remember this particular discussion they had in years to come and realise that it is not black and white? Will they realise that the backbone of this country started with their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers?

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At 60-something, I’d like to think that most of us have seen enough, been involved in enough and experienced enough that we actually are not all like the “Abbotts of this country” and that we are not old fogeys and are a force to be reckoned with and listened to. Does all the “Sally” generation see us as these old fogeys who have stuffed their country? Oh I wish I could get a forum of 60-something’s together to talk to a a room of the “now” generation. I don’t think they have any idea what we and our grandparents before us went through to make this a country we can be proud of, to make this AUSTRALIA!”

Perhaps this explanation of why Gen Y feels this way towards us baby boomers would shed some light on the situation, adapted from this post from Wait But Why:

Gen Y’s parents were born in the 50s – they’re Baby Boomers. They were raised by members of the G.I. Generation, or “the Greatest Generation,” who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II.

The Depression Era grandparents were obsessed with economic security and raised their children to build practical, secure careers. They wanted their children’s careers to be better than their own, and so Gen Y-ers were brought up to envision a prosperous and stable career for themselves.

They were taught that there was nothing stopping them from getting to that lush, green lawn of a career, but that they’d need to put in years of hard work to make it happen.

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As the 70s, 80s, and 90s passed, the world entered a time of unprecedented economic prosperity. The Baby Boomers did even better than they expected to. This left them feeling gratified and optimistic.

With a smoother, more positive life experience than that of their own parents, the Baby Boomers raise their children with a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility. And they weren’t alone. Baby Boomers all around the country and world told their Gen Y kids that they could be whatever they wanted to be, instilling the notion that their children were “special” deep within their psyches.

This left Gen Y feeling extremely hopeful about their lives and careers, to the point where their parents’ goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn’t really do it for them. They want more, and they blame us.


After all this, what do you think? Are the Baby Boomers to blame? What could we have done to change the world we’re now living in? Was it too big of a job for us? Whose fault is it?