Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Baby Boomers' Dream

The soul is born old but grows young. That is the comedy of life. And the body is born young and grows old. That is life's tragedy. - Oscar Wilde

I was dreaming of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control - from John Lennon, "Jealous Guy"
When was typing in the title of this post, I hesitated - on where to put the apostrophe. Was I about to write about MY dream - the "Baby Boomer's Dream", or of our collective "Baby Boomer's Dream"? I decided on the latter.

Lately I've been fixated on something that's been increasingly commented on explored and dissected in the American press. It has taken many forms but is best summed up with the rhetorical question, "What has happened to the 'American Dream'?"

Now I really can't remember, but I suspect there's an Australian equivalent of the "American Dream", and that it means more or less the same thing. The idea that for all citizens of America (or Australia), it is possible to own a house, have steady job that pays enough to raise a family of 1.2 kids, and to retire gracefully.

The reason the question is being asked, in America at least, is that along with the recession-depression, have come foreclosures, lay-offs and a reduction in publicly-funded vital services such as education and commuter transport. But was it ever just "a dream" or was it what could be reasonably expected in reality. My guess is that for the bulk of Americans it has always been a dream, and that the reason that journos are decrying the "loss" of the dream, is that the gap between the dreamers and the dreamed is becoming larger, and that they, themselves, are becoming dreamless. And in any case, a dream is just that; a dream.

Me, in Iran, 35PF (Pre FaceBook)
But I'm not so interested in the American or the Australian "dream". I AM interested in the baby-boomers' dream. And more so lately as I find more and more of my old peripheral friends popping up on FaceBook. The "lefties" of Sydney and Melbourne. Still going strong. Posting YouTube videos of Jethro Tull and Sonny and Cher songs of the 1970s.

Enabled by Mark Zuckerberg, we are all there, on FaceBook, 'liking' each others' music clips that are all pre-circa-1972. The "summer of love" may be almost 50 years away but we are still around.

We have survived. I'm always amazed when I check an old friend's FaceBook friends. There's invariably someone I knew a hundred years ago. I click the "ask xxx to be your friend" link and to my amazement they always accept my cyber offer. Do they remember me, or do they just look at my profile pic and gauge my age, and being people who were brought up in the fifties and sixties to be polite, accept?

Dylan, aka Robert Allen Zimmerman, has been taken over in interest and in "followers" by Mark Zuckerberg. Ever adaptable, we boomers have overcome! No longer rebels or dreamers, today's young have chosen to conduct their personal and political life in cyberspace. And we have joined them.

I remember marching down St Kilda Road in Melbourne in 1969, protesting against the war in Vietnam. We actually had to leave our houses to do this. Now people can Tweet and FaceBook from the comfort of their own bedrooms.

And I have to hand it to my fellow baby-boomers, we have taken to the new media, and have signed up with Twitter and Facebook in droves.

The American and Australian dreams are still - dreams. The Vietnam war has been replaced by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Public health, public schools and public transport are still being pummeled into non-existance by conservative governments.

Like Cool Hand Luke, we shall not be moved.

We shall overcome.

But will we?

6 comments:

Boggy said...

Good one, Kate (as usual)
Hmmm, the 'dream'.
Don't know that I had one in my twenties other than to survive and fly airplanes. Then came marriage, two kids. The dream? A house somewhere, three squares and a warm place to ........rest. Pretty contented, no political thoughts or agenda. Fat, dumb and happy. Guess I'm still the same way. Howsomever, I realize that the post boomers, i.e. those who come after the 50s and 60s kids better get their sh*t together before this Excited States' infrastructure falls apart. Nobody wants to pay taxes for the 'good life' and don't realize that it's starting to come apart at the seams. Yes, we need better schools, better public transport and a reluctance to continue our dependence on foreign oil. And yes, OBTW, a public health system.

Vanessa said...

Ha. Just watched Cool Hand luke over the weekend. Great movie.

Jaded NYer said...

"The American Dream" is on Ambien.

Jaded NYer said...

Allow me to elaborate on my above statement:

Ambien is a "sleep aid" that is known to have drastic side effects that are listed below. I shall attmept to corrolate these "side effects" with what is going on with the pursuit of the "American Dream", see list below with my comparison in bold.

weakness - CAUSED BY TOO MANY HOURS AT WORK

headache - CAUSED BY THINKING ABOUT WORK

dizziness - CAUSED BY GETTING UP TO GO TO WORK

drugged feeling - CAUSED BY BEING AT WORK

unsteady walking - CAUSED BY WORK/LIFE IMBALANCE

difficulty keeping balance - SEE ABOVE

constipation - CAUSED BY WORRY AND ANXIETY

diarrhea - CAUSED BY WORRY AND ANXIETY

gas - CAUSED BY WORRY AND ANXIETY

changes in appetite - CAUSED BY STRESS

uncontrollable shaking - CAUSED BY THE ECONOMY

unusual dreams - CAUSED BY DENIAL

eye redness - CAUSED BY CRYING

muscle aches or cramps - CAUSED BY TRYING

difficulty breathing - CAUSED BY FEAR

hoarseness - CAUSED BY SCREAMING

nausea - CAUSED BY LIVING

vomiting - CAUSED BY BELIEVING

pounding heartbeat - CAUSED BY INSECURITY

chest pain - CAUSED BY REALIZING

Vision problems - CAUSED BY SEEING

There it is. The pursuit of the "American Dream" is making us all sick. Sick because we cannot attain it. Sick because we try to. Sick from dissapointment. Sick from being lied to.

So many families have lost everything, house, job, car, life, because of this economic recession/depression and it's effect on the well being of human lives.

What if the American Dream became reality? What if reality was just an American Dream?

Vanessa said...

Well my husband made a song for all the Baby Boomers:

Here is the link -

"Baby Boomers" by American Lesley Jane
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10377491

firststreetonline said...

I think in many senses of the word a "dream" will always be unachievable because in this context it is referred to as something we don't presently have. I think the American Dream however is real, brought about by our country's hard work and dedication to its citizens and the countries of the world. I think the Baby Boomers got to realize the American Dream more than later generations, although this is not so say we will not achieve it again. Great post!

Post a Comment