The grandiose argument that history was at an end appears to be at an end itself. The terror attacks of September 11th and the coming war with the Iraq settled that debate.
As such, I find myself fondly recalling the heady days of the dot-com ’90s when we Boomer kids bestrode the road of life in SUVs fueled with infotainment, invincibility and blissful ignorance.
Imagine our surprise upon learning that the world isn’t such a shiny, happy place; that there are people who choose not to wear Gap jeans. And since neither geography nor world studies are taught in our public schools any longer, how were we supposed to know that there actually was an Afghanistan–at least one that existed outside of a Rambo movie.
Yet now and for the foreseeable future, Generation X, like every generation that has preceded them, is being called on to sacrifice for the American Way of Life.
Going into all of this (whatever this undefined war against a network of invisible enemies turns out to be), little was expected of anyone born after the Fall of Saigon.
But instead of slacking off, the Starbucks crowd is chomping at its latte.
According to the Selective Service, registration has picked up dramatically since September 11th with online registrations quadrupling in the hours after the terror attacks. Registration ran at twice the average rate for several months after the attacks.
We weren’t even supposed to understand the nature of the acts perpetrated on September 11th or soon to be on display from Baghdad. The adults thought we thought it looked like just another movie or video game, right?
Generation X, the first cohort in America’s lineage to be raised by a generation of mostly war protesters, is downright patriotic.
As first reported by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, “Two years ago, Goldman Sachs was the place to be–even people in the School of Foreign Affairs lined up there. People were interested in six-figure salaries,’ says Ed Friedman, 21, a senior at Georgetown University, who waited in a line that stretched for over half an hour to speak with a C.I.A. recruiter during a job fair. But that was before September 11th. ‘Everyone wants to be part of this, to help.’”
His comments are first-hand evidence of a welcome trend that is sending shockwaves along the generational fault lines that were just beginning to tremble over domestic issues, such as Social Security.
The nation’s twenty-somethings are certainly more hawk than dove; more middle finger than peace sign.
And rather than emulating the “make love not war” attitudes of their counterculture parents, the potential draftees are looking to their grandparents–the so-called, yet so true Greatest Generation–for role models. Instead of “GI Envy,” it’s a case of “GI Emulation.”
Gen X is being faced with a choice between experience and callowness, between sacrifice and self-indulgence, between the most heroic American generation of the century and the most coddled. And the grandparents are winning.
Subsequently, a sense of embarrassment with evasive, evading Baby Boomer parents has taken hold as their children question why they left for Canada to avoid the draft or why they spent so much time in Haight-Ashbury.
That is why no campuses are aflame in protest against the war on terror. The Stars and Stripes is hung with pride instead of burned, the CIA is admired instead of scorned, and America’s young people are eager to follow a trail blazed by their grandparents but wandered from by their parents.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire