We live in the age of group apologies. I would like to add one. The baby boomer generation needs to apologize to America, especially its young generation, for many sins. Here is a partial list:
First and perhaps foremost, we apologize for robbing many of you of a childhood.
We baby boomers were allowed perhaps the most innocent childhoods known to history. We grew up without material want, in one of the most decent places in world history, with media that preserved our sexual and other innocence, in schools that generally taught us well, and we were allowed childhood play from boy-girl play to rough and tumble boy-boy play to monkey bars and ringalievio. Our generation has deprived you of all these things. And while we were aware of the threat of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, few of us believed that we were threatened with death anywhere near the amount we have scared you about death from secondhand smoke, global warming and heterosexual AIDS, to mention just a few of the exaggerated death scares we have inflicted on you.
Our generation came up with two truly foolish slogans that also ended up robbing you of childhood.
One was, "Never trust anyone over 30." Our infantile attitude toward adult authority has inflicted great harm on you. Because of it, many baby boomers decided not to become adults, and this has had disastrous consequences in your lives. It deprived you of one of the greatest needs in your life -- adults. That in turn deprived you of something as important as love -- parental and other adult authority. With little parental authority, you were left with little personal security, few guardrails and a diminished sense of order in life. And we transferred this denial of authority to virtually all authority figures, from teachers to police.
The other slogan whose awful consequences we baby boomers bequeathed to you was, "Make love, not war." Our parents had liberated the world from immeasurably cruel and murderous regimes in Germany and Japan -- solely thanks to waging war. But instead of concluding that war could do great moral good, we sang ourselves silly with such inane lyrics as "Give peace a chance," as if that deals in any way with the world's most monstrous evils. So we taught you to make love and not war. And we succeeded.
We made you anti-war and almost completely sexualized your lives. We told you that having sex was terrific or at least to be expected, even in early teens, and that your only concerns should be avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and getting pregnant. And if you did get pregnant, we made sure that you could extinguish the life you were carrying as effortlessly and guiltlessly as possible.
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