The generation that built our super highways, university campuses, and hospital complexes also populated and built many church houses, along with large educational wings, church camps, private school and numerous global mission and relief agencies.
They added to the somewhat sparse social and civic capital available as they began their adult lives, often as folks returning as war veterans, having seen entire communities laid waste.
As their lives and reach and power began to wane, however, they began to spend that social capital, particularly with their Boomer children. How did they do this? By expecting those children to accept things as they were, removing the opportunity to create and work together to discern and overcome a variety of obstacles. They simply were not all that good at allowing their children to create and build or run things.
The Boomer generation did make headway with a number of societal ills once their elders were pushed out of the way. This includes specific advances in civil rights, but the overall Boomer record is one of deconstructing, reorganizing and consuming resources rather than creating or expanding. Their concern shifted to the exercise of individual freedom and fulfillment over the care of a hard-to-build civic equity that includes self-sacrifice.
And now it seems that this already lessened equity is falling more rapidly—especially with our youngest adults who enjoy associating with one another, but in virtual ways rather than in real life, constructing ones.
Connections among and between all our generations are now being made in order to express outrage, but not to keep bridges safe. We protest and send flaming social media messages but do not attend to long-term, multi-generational enterprise. We hookup but are not signing up to be counted on.
It is time to look in our neighbor’s eyes again, to join with them to build something, to make with others rather than take from them, especially those generations who come after us.
The sum of social equity needs to be larger in our wake, just as we would want a greater environmental sustainability or an estate to care for family members that survive us. This is the balance sheet I want to track.
Just who benefits from the life we live, and for how long?