Thursday, October 26, 2006

Talkin' 'bout My Generation

As I mentioned on my Updates blog, the 50's and 60's have been politicized. This and all those emails going around the 'net about 50's nostalgia made me think about it.

The 50's were a wonderful, safe time for me to grow up in. But then I'm extremely fortunate because my parents were loving, supportive, and functional and instilled values in my brother and me that gave us a feeling of responsibility and compassion for others, healthy self-esteem, and knowledge that we always have family there for us, just as we are there for them. This wasn't such a good time if you were black, gay, American Indian, a woman, or other minority who wanted the same rights as white males. It also wasn't a time when anyone discussed anything that could have helped them leave an abusive situation I didn't even know existed until I heard people on TV talk about it. While I grew up in what to me was one of those stereotypical 50's families on television I identified with so closely, I understood later that to many people it was a myth. I had no idea. In some ways I wasn't prepared to have problems since I tried to be a "good girl" who those things didn't happen to. In other ways the foundation of unconditional love always provided a safety net.

The 60's as chaotic, disturbing, and violent as they were brought about changes that were necessary. It wasn't all sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, although we did have good music then. The 60's made us gun shy enough that I didn't realize how tense I was about the Carters walking on the street during his inauguration until he got to the stand without being shot.

I identify with all the decades during which I've lived because they all shaped who I am. Jackie isn't a fan of sociology, but I am. I love studying it and cultural anthropology and history as well as the pop culture that's going on in the present.

Molly Ivins said that Southern liberals are formed because they lied to us about race. I agree with her about that and many other things. It's easy to sweep all those inequities under the rug and feel nostalgic about an era seen as blissfully innocent unless you had to give away your first-born child only because it made others uncomfortable because I was unmarried and nineteen. That was much too high a price to pay for maintaining the status quo of 1963, which was philosophically still part of the 50's. We nice middle-class white girls who went through that baby-mill holocaust of our own don't feel an obligation to return to that hypocrisy. Those of us lucky enough to be reunited with our children we lost to adoption are grateful to at least have contact with them now, but oh how much we missed!