Wissot: You can’t hold sway from the grave | VailDaily.com

Wissot: You can’t hold sway from the grave

Admit it. Admit it, for crying out loud. We sure had a blast, didn’t we? The ’60s baby. The Smothers Brothers, Twiggy, Tiny Tim, mini skirts, Nehru jackets, the Beatles, Motown, wailing with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin at Woodstock — the greatest sex fest, drug fest, mud fest and music fest ever. Dropping acid with Timothy Leary. Tripping with the hippies in Haight-Ashbury. Vietnam war protests. We sure as hell were a generation of pyromaniacs: burning draft cards, burning bras, burning down cities. We overdosed on anarchy and chaos. We gathered our rosebuds as fast as they sprouted.

What’s that? You missed all that hysteria? You weren’t at Woodstock? You didn’t do drugs? You didn’t make love in the mud? You supported the Vietnam War? You joined the Young Republican Club on campus? You loved Barry Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of A Conservative?”

Wow. You and I must have been living totally different lives in the ’60s. Kind of like today, isn’t it? The cultural divide began a long time ago. It didn’t start with Obama, the Tea Party, or Trump. We hated each other’s politics 60 years ago. Our first two boomer presidents were Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Clinton was like me, and Bush must have been like you. We’ve been marching to the beat of different drummers for decades now.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but our time is up. Boomers are no longer the largest generation in the country. We’ve been replaced by the generation waiting in the wings to succeed us. Millennials now outnumber us. More to the point, we’re no longer relevant. Many of us live in the past and are afraid of the future. The most liberal among us are less liberal than millennials on matters of race, gender equality, support for LBQTQ rights, and the urgency of climate change.

The old warning, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” now applies to us twice over. We need to heed the words in Bob Dylan’s anthem for the ’60s: “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land. And don’t criticize what you don’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old road is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand. For the times, they are a changin’.“

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I know you’re going to hit me with the wisdom that comes with age adage. I think that depends on whether you had the potential to become wise when you were young. Dumb young people don’t usually grow into wise old people. In fact, the wisest among us weren’t all that wise anyway, were we? We weren’t prepared for the looming dangers waiting in the wings for us and got caught with our pants down. Did you see Sept. 11, 2001, coming? How about the financial collapse of 2008? I whiffed on the global pandemic. I’m guessing you did, too. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’d admit we were AWOL for the crucial crises in our lifetime.

Our children have observed our irrelevance in regard to meeting the demands of the moment. They roll their eyes as we fight with each other over nonsensical cultural issues like wokeism, cancel culture, Critical Race Theory and drag queen storytelling time at the local library, while armageddon is at our doorstep in the form of a world that plays Russian roulette with the threat of nuclear and climate change extinction. We have chosen gridlock over compromise and stalemate over progress. We are the “Groundhog Day” generation, in a time warp of our own making, behaving like the dog who chased his own tail, revering the invention of the pencil sharpener.

The responsible path for us to follow is to promote the passing of the torch to generations X,Y, Z. We need to begin the transfer of our leadership positions in politics, business, the professions, the arts and religion while we are still around to offer them our counsel, our advice, and, yes, our wisdom. Our roles should be that of servants rather than wielders of power. What do we have to lose except our pride and ego? The alphabet kids couldn’t possibly mess up the world worse than we have. We’ve set the bar so low.

By 2050, the youngest of Gen X (1965-1980) will be 70; the youngest of Gen Y, the millennials, (1981-1996) will be 54; the youngest of Gen Z (1997-2012) will be 38. The stewardship of the last half of this century will fall entirely on them.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but most of the boomers (1946-1964) reading this will be dead in 2050. The youngest living souls from that generation will be 86 and mostly preoccupied with when their meals on wheels lunch arrives.

I don’t believe bleeding-heart liberals like me or black-hearted conservatives should be standing in the way of solutions to the vast estate sale inventory of problems that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will inherit. It should be for them to decide if they want the government to accelerate the inevitable transition from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy. They should be the ones refereeing the explosive immigration issue caused by a declining white majority population that is losing power and a nonwhite minority population that is gaining political power.

Paying higher taxes, risking higher unemployment, and increasing the national debt, in order to get the benefits of government-regulated health care, maternity leave, day care and college tuition entitlement programs should be their choice, not their elders.

Old MSNBC liberals and old Fox News conservatives shouldn’t be the ones shaping the destiny of a nation they won’t be here to see.

Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at jayhwissot@mac.com

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