This Covid period among our older populace proves that after a time minds become less pliant. In them views narrow then solidify.
When I hear people, say, at least 14 years my senior, opine, they often remind me of an Allen Ginsberg quote. The poet said: “Our heads are round so thought can change direction.”
Life has squared their noggins.
There must come a period in life when our ability to juggle contrary positions against – or even adapt to – what our minds hold as irrevocable erodes. At one point each of us must’ve been mentally nimble. But as many of us age, our ability to modify or rearrange perception and understanding loses fluidity.
It’s not that those hewing tenaciously to fixed positions are simply stubborn. More like their mental processes have congealed. They just can’t budge.
No need to provoke such people. They’ll erupt without cause. The mantra they spew? “Nobody wants to work anymore.”
Popularly known as “the Silent Generation,” they huddle wedged between former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” and “Baby Boomers.” Arriving just before the Depression then shoved onto the periphery of American memory with the first birth of 1946, too few members of this cohort left an impression on our national scene. Also, the calamities that occurred between the years 1929-1945 made prospective parents wary about bringing or being able to afford having children. Their aggregate was lower than the two generations sandwiching them.
Though the Depression and World War II were nowhere near as formative to them as it was upon the participants and combatants, both events nevertheless left imprints. Here in the economically poleaxed America of the1930s and wartime’s Fortress of Democracy, daily life must’ve been maintained at some levels of precariousness.
Each era embedded its own worries upon the still forming.
Unless one’s background affluent during the Depression, want was a constant threat. A job which sustained home and hearth week after week was no certainty. And unlike today, the safety net, if one existed, consisted of savings, family, and perhaps friends. Compared to now, government programs that helped citizens tide over rough patches were meager as well as sparse.
Doubtlessly parents one pay envelope away from being up against it discussed finances in the most sotto tones. Nonetheless careful as they must have been, that sort of constant stress must’ve also reached then affected young minds.
And while the war that broke out among the Europeans in September 1939 was a topic that could be bandied at intellectual remove, Pearl Harbor two years later became a realer than real matter of survival. The Depression’s threat of possible imminent destitution might be diverted through a head down, no boat rocking posture coupled with an “it could be worse” attitude which made them grateful to possess what they had.
The December 7th, 1941, attack became a life and death matter.
Two oceans aside, wolves threatened Americans’ doors. The vast watery expanses which had kept America remote from most global conflicts were by 1941 capable of being crossed by all sorts of weapons. What had been viewed while watching movie theaters’ newsreels – cities obliterated from the air, columns of grim jackbooted troops intent on carnage – now offered foretastes of what America might’ve shared with Europe or Asia.
Easy to imagine that after Pearl Harbor no American regarded fates similar to Rotterdam or Shanghai visiting these shores as “improbable.” At least initially, conversation based on war topics were undoubtedly debated between disbelief and hysteria.
Although dementia and death have substantially reduced those then present as WWII adults, that there was possibly an undercurrent of defeatism during the global conflict’s first disastrous months is difficult to deny. It’s just the sort of thing children can absorb though can’t properly articulate sufficiently in order to have parents explain. Or dispel.
Maybe it becomes a thing that weighs adolescents who enter their teens before becoming adults; that inexplicable thing they unconsciously drag with them through life.
A benefit from Covid is it’s loosened the shackles of American workers. That’s given them leverage against bosses. Terrific!
On one hand, the worker shortage, created from retirements, deaths, and searches for better, stems directly from the disease.
The first a realization by long-time employees they’d gotten to points of simply living to work rather than working to live. Why drop dead at one’s place of employment or linger a few post-retirement years in pain and regret? If the necessary years had accrued – even if the total short – why not abandon that toil and enjoy what remained of life while it still possible?
The second, a factor way too few Americans grasp or want to, is a good number of working people succumbed to Covid. To them, their families, friends, it wasn’t a hoax. Covid wasn’t just jumped-up flu.
Despite the best efforts of right-wing barking heads and jackleg screamers to slander every patient overwhelming ICUs and hospital staffs, sufferers filling wards and providing care in them weren’t crisis actors. For awhile rumors circulated that at my own job Covid claimed one co-worker a week. Of course confidentiality rules and HR doing its utmost to protect the company blunted ascertaining whether this fact or not.
Third, the first two Covid conditions created mobility. Countless current workers are exploiting this last opening. A circumstance anyone constitutionally timid finds adverse.
A worker shortage meant dead-end, low-wage positions, and peonage treatment could be dumped for perhaps more satisfying, higher paying labor where supervisors aware the worm has turned keep their tyrant conduct in check.
That’s what “the Silent Generation” means when it erroneously states “Nobody wants to work anymore.” They’re angered that it appears nobody wants to work as they once did.
Fearful of losing jobs they were grateful to have even if it meant being humiliated throughout a career. For far too many laboring Americans that was the take-it-or-leave-it pact until Covid.
Current attitudes spreading regarding how one’s daily bread is earned reflects badly on “the Silent Generation.” They put up with shit because in return for a comfortable living standard made possible through a decent salary, benefits, and pensions, the boss could release his inner Attila the Hun on them at will. Rotten management will never hide its contempt for the cogs. Before Covid, underlings could be replaced as easily as getting a fresh tissue after soiling the previous sheet.
Then, even getting raises could’ve grown into ordeals. Despite workplace performances justifying the bump how often had the process transformed productive employees into nearly on their knees supplicants?
We may suppose “the Silent Generation” invented some nobility about enduring these trials. We may also suppose them seeing a new generation come along and blithely chucking the old nature for new measures somehow tarnishes whatever glory had shined jobs offering two-weeks-a year vacation.