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Dec 01, 2005

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Russell Smith

Michael, This series is great -- hurry up and finish it so I can link to the whole thing at my church's leadership blog! (and invite our leadership to interact with your taxonomy of the generations)
Russell

Erin Yes

A Generation That Transformed America

The 60s generation has been analyzed and debated for years, but not many of us who belong to that generation speak up to offer our point of view. I believe this is because it is difficult to describe the depth and array of thoughts and emotions we experienced during this time of social and political change.

Although the iconic form of the 1960s is social transformation, personal, interpersonal and economic changes occurred as well. The decade saw the end to formal voter discrimination and job discrimination based on race and color. It brought the establishment of the minimum wage, greater economic rights for women (for instance, allowing them to borrow money without a man’s co-signature), and the advent of fair housing rules.

Progress in educational and economic opportunities, racial equality and sexual freedom, made it possible for America to move from a view of itself as a homogeneous population to acknowledgement of its diversity. The economic power of the United States in turn flourished as a diverse population took advantage of these new freedoms and opportunities.

We take these freedoms and opportunities as self-evident today, whether conservative, liberal or untagged. In the 1970s and 80s, immigrants from many countries were to reap the rewards of these improvements.

All great advances reach a height at which they experience vertigo. For the 60s generation, this may have been Woodstock - a panoramic view of a possible way of life.

The idea that social organization could retain wildness and individuality while communal and cohesive is not new: the founders thought of it. In this re-formulation of Rousseau’s concepts, the noble savage evolves in a society with few rules, with the underlying belief that people will not harm one another if given the opportunity to be free.

At Woodstock, the vision was modernized, and it was enough to make people dizzy.

I know, because I was there and I do remember it. The drug-taking and free range sex has been overstated. Most of us went for the music - and found that we were not alone in our desire for freedom from the many constraints of the past.

I use the word freedom in its true sense, as the only basis of achieving morality.

Although we saw the future from a hillside on a simple American farm, we fell back to earth.

Looking back, I wonder if we are capable of using intellectual and moral perception to advance ourselves by other than the smallest increments. Still, I hope that we can, whether in huge gatherings or by blogging at midnight.

What will be America’s next transformation?

Michael Kruse

Thanks for your observations, Erin.

I think every generation leaves its mark. It makes contributions and generates problems that are passed to the next generation. Some contribute in bring change, others in consolidating change. If Strauss and Howe are right, we are approaching a civil crisis that resolve itself in consensus over the next decade or so. We will see.

elle

Interesting that you start the Boomer generation at 1943 instead of 45, after the war. For a long time the media kept telling me Dec '63 that I was a Boomer, but I never felt like one and couldn't fathom how I could be of the same generation as my parents both born in the mid-40's.

Michael W. Kruse

Elle, I'm using the dates used by William Straus and Neil Howe. A typical range is 1946-1964 because that is when the birth trends rose above the historical average (1946) and then went below the average (1964). S and H use 1943 because it marked the point where the birth decline of the 1930s bottomed out and 1960 because that was about the point where high births peaked. I think S & H's model makes more sense for this type of study.

Also, S & H are using generation in sense that may be slightly different than you are used to. Instead of being a person born within a sequence of lineage (your familiy) they are using it to identify people who were born and raised in a semi-distinct era. It is not a precise change but a change nonetheless.

Anon

People born in 1943 are not baby boomers; and they're to old be compared with born in 1959/1960.

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