Audio for “A Baby Boomer’s Last March?
WAMC Feb. 14, 2013
Dr. Steven A Leibo is a Professor of International History & Politics at the Sage Colleges
I have been thinking a lot about my ankle lately. You see it does not work very well. It’s often pretty painful to even walk. I suppose it’s not really the ankle’s fault. It’s just been around a long time, well over sixty years. And of course it’s gotten a lot of use, especially in the nineteen sixties when my generation, you’ve probably heard of us, early on known as the baby boomers, then for a time the Vietnam generation and then more recently back again as the boomers.
In any case, it’s true we were born just after World War II. And we certainly did spend a lot of time marching against the Vietnam War. Boy we were young back than and not just young but really naïve. We actually thought Richard Nixon, the president who helped create the Environmental Protection Agency, Opened relations with Red China and almost struck a deal with Ted Kennedy on national health care, was a conservative!.. can you believe it?
And of course my generation really believed a committed people could actually change America. We thought if we pushed hard enough we might be able to empower women to have more control over their lives. Even push past the world of Jim Crow we were born into— to really empower African Americans to take their rightful place in American life. Pretty heady stuff, but of course the young can be awfully ambitious.
These days, I am not nearly as ambitious, well maybe I am looking forward to being able to qualify for full social security benefits rather than the more limited ones I can already claim. No it’s true, my ambitions are less transformative, dare I say it, I am becoming more conservative every day. I suppose that is pretty common,
No, these days, just conserving the planetary climate patterns we all grew up within seems quite enough. I suppose, like a lot of people I just want to protect what I have got and willing if necessary to stand up to all those radicals in the fossil fuel industry who want to pull down society.
No, sometimes it feels pretty good to be a conservative. Which brings me back to my ankle, because this Sunday this aging baby boomer, this member of the Vietnam generation is going back into the streets, back into the streets because at this moment, from all across the nation people are streaming toward DC to stand at the citadel of our nation’s capital and demand that we begin the most important and most conservative effort of our lives to force a national conversation on the price we pay for our prolific burning of fossil fuels.
Yes, thousands of people flowing toward DC to demand that those who want to make our emerging climatic instability even worse by investing heavily into even dirtier fossil fuels, a suicidal dive into the tar sand oils, the infamous Keystone Pipeline have got to be stopped– pushed aside in a wave of green energy development. And ankle or not, even if I have to stand in the middle of the crowd and let them march around me this baby boomer will be there because future generations won’t know the baby boomer generation from a cumquat. Will know Vietnam only as a country ravaged by ever more powerful storms not war.
No sadly future generations are more likely to remember us as
“the generation that knew”
That knew that fossil fuel burning was destroying our planetary heat balance in a way that our parents could not have known. And whose children were largely too young, still too lacking in influence yet to steer our fossil fuel Titanic like ship of state fast enough away from the danger. Yes, we are really the generation that knew, the generation that still largely runs the world and yet did not do enough to conserve climate stability.
So bad ankle or not, thus Sunday, February 17th it’s back to the streets for this baby boomer and his bad ankle.
It’s a way to make amends