In the middle of a discussion of Occupy Wallstreet on Facebook, I found myself defending my generation. One opponent insisted that those of us in our 60's or “from the 60's” - odd how that’s mostly the same group – have become “the man.” This woman stated that we’re not green enough to claim any credibility.
I found myself listing my “green creds” and when I looked them over – they’re not just “green creds” they’re also the marks of being an eccentric geezer. I have a dryer. But I prefer to hang my clothes on the line. The neighborhood store sells whole wheat bread, but I prefer to make my own from scratch. I’d rather mend my clothes than go shopping for new ones. I like hardcover books which I often buy used. I compost my kitchen leftovers. I ride my bike or take the bus, when I could easily check out a car from the local car co-op. I grow my own herbs and veggies. I use herb medicine in preference to prescription drugs. I’m definitely someone from the previous century.
But here I am on Facebook, using complex computer skills. I’m not retired. I belong to a gym, which I visit almost daily. But the young folks have written me off as “the man.”
It’s an extreme case of “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” I admit – my generation started it. But at the same time, we did respect our elders if they took the time to explain things to us from their point of view instead of just bossing us around as if we were automatically going to copy them.
I remember seriously considering trying LSD. The older woman I talked to said she understood why I might want to have a spiritual experience “the easy way” or see something trippy, or enter an altered state of mind. But, she said, she knew smart students who had bad trips. She asked me if my curiosity was worth risking a bad trip. No lecture. No orders. I decided not to take LSD. Not even to try marijuana or cigarettes. I didn’t need “the easy way.”
I have had spiritual experiences because I meditate. I have had artistic experiences – again because I meditate. And I have learned to respect opinions from anybody who will discuss them without claiming to have the absolute truth on his or her side.
When I was in my teens and 20's “the man” thought he had all the answers and I thought his answers made no sense. Now, I’m being called “the man.” Something in me says “don’t deny it.” If I have become “the man” my denying it won’t change anything. And if I have not, my denying it won’t convince anybody.
I’d like to think I’m something new – “the woman.” I have yet to define what that is.