My mind is pretty much fried right now, Sunday night. I’m on a 5+ hour bus ride home from NYC, where I did a reading with some of my writers and the next day went to watch some of the Pride March with a college friend who lives in Greenwich village (except that we got stuck on the wrong side of all the traffic barriers along the march route, and eventually had to hike some distance to get to where we could get a subway to take us under the crowd and the barriers and let us out pretty far from where she lives.) So, good times, but trying ones.
The March, what we saw of it, was great. once we found a shady area under some construction scaffolding to watch it from. Huge amounts of noise and intense crowding (that’s not the great part,) much entertainment, and even more political activism, not limited to LGBTQ issues but tackling healthcare and gun regulation and major injustices of several kinds.
I wasn’t thinking then of trying to wrestle the March into a suitable topic for our theme of intergenerational interaction, but on reflection I remember being impressed by how much generational intermingling there was. The causes that were proclaimed with signs and banners and bits of street theater were important to people of all ages, and you could see men and women even older than I am marching or riding on floats side by side with kids who may not even have been out of their teens. The different generations shared not only common political/social interests, but the commonality of living in a society that too often rejects them. Youngsters who may well have been disowned and thrown out by their own parents could take some comfort being with older people who had suffered the same pain, and persisted, and survived. I don’t know how far the spirit of Pride carries over into daily life, but at times like that the “us versus them” lines that separate generations get re-formed, if only temporarily, to enclose LBTTQ people and leave their detractors outside.
See what I mean about trying to wrestle something to fit our theme? There’s probably a hint of truth in my meanderings, but not all that much. There are still old/young fracture lines within the “we are fam-i-ly” claim. The young will always disparage looking old, and the old will always disparage youthful ignorance. The young will try to believe that they will never be so stupid as to look old, and the old…well, they probably base their opinion of youthful ignorance on memories of their own youthful failings, so there’s no equivalence there.
Stepping aside from musings on the March, I see alarming amounts of resentment these days on the part of young people. The young have always felt apart from the old, clinging to an unexamined and probably subconscious belief that they will never let themselves be old like that, or that old people must deserve to be old. Never trust anyone over 30.
I suppose new generations have always blamed the older generations for screwing up the world they inherit, which is, in a way, true, while we in the older generations say we did the best we could with what we inherited, and so ad infinitum. I think this feeling of the young is getting more intense all the time, with good cause, although when I hear them say that my generation is too conservative and intolerant and sexually repressed, I feel like asking if they’ve ever heard of the sixties and seventies, of Free Love and the March on Washington for Civil Rights, of protests against the War in Vietnam and sit-ins at military bases (I did some of these) that actually had an effect. I realize that there’s no use in claiming what we think are the virtues of our youth now that we’re older, but I know older people now who are still in the fight, elderly women being arrested for civil disobedience, men…well, I can’t think offhand of any men I know who are out there chaining themselves to military base gates along with the women, but there are certainly many determinedly progressive older men around. Bernie, for example, although I have some issues with him.
But there’s something else going on now that hasn’t always been there. Many young people feel that they will never be as economically secure as their parents’ generation. They’ll never be able to afford homes like the ones they grew up in. There aren’t enough good jobs available for them. In a wider context, they might justifiably feel that the generations before them have used up too many natural resources in their greed, and damaged too much of the world. I can’t say that they’re wrong.
Well, drat, I should just have gone with my first impulse, which was to write a flash story, inspired by the old men in our government who seem determined to not only prevent women from using contraceptives or having abortions, but from having insurance that pays for the medical costs of pregnancy and childbirth. Basically, women who can’t afford the medical costs of having babies must not have sex with men, at least not until they’re past childbearing age. That made me think of a dystopian world where a few rich, powerful older men have sex with young women so they’ll bear them children (yes, I know, The Handmaid’s Tale) which leads to the younger and/or less powerful men only being able to have sex with women past childbearing age. The upside could be that the young men look forward to having a chance with the older women who can teach them how to please women so that if they ever get a chance at the younger ones…Oh. Nevermind. Not necessarily an upside. I guess I really don’t feel like writing that story after all.
No story. No wifi on the bus (there’s suppose to be, and was on the way down, but it isn’t working on this bus.) And only sporadic electrical power to charge my computer. Maybe I’d better try to snooze. We older generation folks need a lot of snoozing.