Swans Commentary » swans.com July 28, 2008  



The Sands Of Time Grinding Again Exceedingly Fine


by Carol Warner Christen





(Swans - July 28, 2008)   I went to my grandson's wedding on Saturday in Seattle and what did I see but my parents' generation staring back at me! Years ago, I read the book Generations. (1) After the wedding, at the reception, the wedding party gathered on and off the stage at the church while we sat at tables enjoying the repast. The bride and groom sang "I've Got You, Babe" (2) to each other and then the wedding party gathered in a singular dancing circle and began swaying, singing, and dancing, arms in the air, together. No one joined the group. I do not believe any of us knew this type of singing and dancing. I had no idea of how to join them and, apparently, others didn't either.

With the realization that this was the Millennial (Civic) generation, all the memories of my parents popped suddenly back into my head. They sang together because there were no televisions, no distractions. The Civic adults of my childhood designed the world and built it then. This is what we see, the infrastructure, falling apart all around us over the entire country. An interesting thing was that "Greatest Generation," according to Tom Brokaw, never let us sing with them; we got to listen and watch. There was a lot of partying and drinking at the time whenever they gathered. They laughed and fought and lived large. None of them in our family fought in World War II. None of their parents fought in World War I either.

The four types of generation follow each other in an endless cycle of purpose, according to the book. The Civics built the world most of us know. Their children -- me, the Adaptives -- humanized what our parents built using literature, music, dancing, all of the arts. This is where we got the great writers and great books, the hippies, and rock music, to mention a small part of our recent heritage. A strange thing happened, though, on the way to the present. The Civics gave birth to a second generation, due to World War II, a generation that outnumbered mine by millions. Mine has never had even a US president. We Adaptives are the smallest generation alive; the Boomers (Idealists) were also parented by the Civics. The Boomers are the largest of the current generations.

The generation after the Boomers is called the Thirteeners as it is the thirteenth generation from the first to build the United States of America. They are pragmatists and will clean up all the previous messes as they give birth to the new Civics. Of course, there are overlaps. I had four Boomers and one Thirteener; all of my children had the new Civics; i.e., total of seven grandchildren. The one who just married will have Adaptive children like me. (At last!)

There is a downside to this generational focus. Each generation will not measure its works as to their worth. For example, the Civics will build. Whether they build marvelous engineering works and buildings or gas ovens and slums doesn't matter to them. My Adaptives will adapt to any conditions: the good, the bad, the indifferent. The Boomers are idealists but their ideals are individual suited to each one's taste, not necessarily what is best for all; and, finally, the Pragmatists will coldly and neatly clean up every mess without judgment.

Now, I love my Civic grandchildren as deeply as I was loved by my Adaptive grandmother. She was called the Lost generation due to World War I. Love crosses all the boundaries I just outlined as long as the soul is alive and well, whether the human being is encased in a gestalt of today or yesterday, for that matter.

It was, at my grandson's wedding, a singular moment of insight: the more things change, the more they are the same as what goes 'round comes 'round over and over and over again. Do we ever change? Do we ever learn these lessons? I often wonder how free will tangles up the best or worst of plans.

I also notice that Civics are assisting the Pragmatists with the electronic net now falling over all of us. Where are we at any given minute? Who are we? Are we as trustworthy as those who are sorting us out by some giant formula we are not privy to except we know it's called surveillance or spying or keeping the riffraff and the aliens out of our newly designed space(s)? The Chinese intend, with the help of our electronics companies, to have on file one billion three hundred million (1,300,000,000) Chinese faces so they can know who is who and who is doing what. Why? How many people does it take to check on so many? Who keeps track of correctly updating such an ungodly amount of information? Who can know if it is even correct? Who, but each one, would care? Who will pay for mistakes?

Our police nannies are doing the same here in the airports and on the streets. As we drove home from the wedding back to Oregon, one of our guests, a young man studying to be a mechanical engineer -- a charming young Civic -- pointed out every single roadside camera and spybot on the highway to home. Will the highways soon become highways to hell if those looking at you from afar decide you are unworthy or bad? Why on earth would we want to pay taxes for all this intrusion, and to what end?

The Russian communists sent all their suspects to Siberia or worse. Are we becoming what we purported to hate during the Cold War? Why would we destroy what the Founders built for us just so we can become as one-sided as a Russian communist in the old days? Is this behavior genetic? Psychotic? Inevitable? Insane? Don't forget about those detention camps our corporations just built that are, as yet, idle.

Of course, I just finished reading Secession by Thomas Naylor (3) about Vermont and its policies, which are in direct contradiction to what passes for our specious notions of freedom. Vermont has freedom; and, they know how to use it with a plus that they are better off than many other states in terms of the welfare of their people. Many small states and countries around the world are also richer and freer and better off than we are ourselves with the spying, the warring, the rape of our resources, the dumbing down of our children, and the hunger, among other horrors we seem to care little about.

There is no real Fourth Estate; i.e., no news in newspapers unless local. There is no news on television because the corporate sponsors don't want us to hear reality. The Internet we paid for and learned to love for its information will soon be under attack and put on two tracks, one for us and one for the corporations. How soon will ours fall into disrepair, do you suppose?




1.  Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe, William Morrow Publisher, New York, 1991.  (back)

2.  Artist: Sonny & Cher, Song: "I Got You Babe," 1965.  (back)

3.  Secession, Thomas H. Naylor, Feral House, 2008.  (back)


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About the Author

Carol Warner Christen on Swans (with bio)... Woman born 1939, twice married, five children, 7 grandchildren; own a goat farm, rural Oregon after years in Chicago area and Ohio; Associate of Arts, Chicago Art Institute (1 year); artist, editor, mechanical design drafting supervisor; owned two computer companies before anyone had a computer; activist; antiwar; human.



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art14/carenc41.html
Published July 28, 2008