Being a Baby Boomer has meant that major trends have developed within my generation. When those trends develop they look extremely popular because there are so doggone many Baby Boomers. My parents and teachers would generally stress the importance of making up my own mind, and not letting “the crowd” set the agenda for me. Thus, when I was in junior high and high school, and protests against the war were in vogue, I didn’t attend the war protests. My mom knew mob mentality could take hold quickly, and she told me to find another way to be heard. Instead, I wrote letters to my Congressman, Senators, and the President. I wrote a lot of letters. I circulated petitions. I got involved in local, state, and national elections to try to get candidates elected that I thought could effect change.
In the ensuing years my thinking on many things has evolved. In some areas of life I tend to be an ‘early adopter’ if a trend or concept looks good to me and I believe it will help change things for the better. However, in subsequent stages of the process of that same idea becoming part of society, there have been times I stepped back from the same idea. Why? Just like a bill making its way through Congress, so too do ideas get things added on in order for more people to “buy in” to the idea. Sometimes the bill or idea or concept becomes something that is so vastly changed that it is hardly recognizable from the original one. In those cases, I step back and part company.
An example of this occurred in the late 60s early 70s when the anti-war protestors began burning down buildings, throwing things at the police, and spitting on returning soldiers. At that point I disavowed myself of the so-called peace movement and never looked back. Violence to end violence made no sense to me. The movement had become about the leaders garnering personal power, rather than the original goals.
When groups I have been in became negative and judgmental, I have left those groups if my efforts to redirect did not work. When friends of mine became avid partyers and drug users, we parted company. I decided I would rather have no friends and no social outlets than be a part of that. I do not want to be influenced by bullies and dangerous people. As it turned out, ultimately others made the same decisions in their lives. Those are some of the people who I associate with now. Thinkers, discerners, rock solid people who value what is right, and defend the bullied and minimized. Bullies cannot win when people stand up to them. Sometimes convincing others to join you in walking away from the bullies is all it takes to stop the bullying. If it looks like “everyone” is bullying or supporting the bullies, sometimes it is scary to stand up to the bullies. But sometimes people get brave.
It is scary and hard sometimes to be a bit ‘on your own’ and outside the crowd. Perhaps that need to belong and loved is what makes it so difficult to separate from the crowd. But it really is true that good and beautiful ideas can become magnetic. Truth, love, and beauty win. It is hard to know when to be patient and kind, and when to walk away. I have to be able to live with myself. Even Scripture tells us there are times when we have to “shake the dust from our feet” and leave the town.
What am I trying to say? I am trying to tell my SELF to “think” before I join a movement or even a discussion. I have to figure out what is actually being said, what that then means or implies, how I feel about it, what I can/should do about it, and then act or speak. For a Baby Boomer like me, that can be difficult. As I said, there have always been so many of us.; forming and joining groups has been a frequent hallmark of our generation. It feels weird at times to not be part of a group, only because it is easy to get out of practice. Of course, part of me has a tendency to think “hmmm if it seems like ‘everyone is doing it’ it’s probably the wrong thing to do”.
I am not saying it very clearly; I don’t mean it in a judgmental way. I mean it in a discernment way in helping me figure out when I should act or speak and what I should do. Granted, God’s way guides me and inspires me. I am speaking here of sorting through the “chatter” in my own mind. Spoken as a member of the so-called Pepsi Generation—but I generally did prefer Coca Cola. So the question is, metaphorically speaking, do i join the pepsi people? do i give the world a coke? not necessarily either. I dream the impossible dream. Does that mean I am tilting at windmills? I am a sucker for a noble cause; I am a perennial optimist.