Pass the torch


At 95, the founder of Peace Corps left us to figure out world affairs by ourselves.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/topic/sns-ap-us-obit-shriver,0,2461815.story

I used to shine my dad’s shoes, while he slicked his hair back. From where I sat, he appeared a towering figure.

Men from that generation ( like Burt Lancaster’s “From Here to Eternity”) stood erect,  principled and was willing to pay hefty price

(the costs of WWII got the US a deficit of 110%).

With GI bill, they went back to school, and from there, a two-front race (with Japan on the economic front, and Russia the cold front). We saw a shift to industrialization (and suburbanization and standardization, so sterile that the Flower Generation revolted by putting stickers on their Beetle’s bumper to “brand” themselves). With cheap fuel, we got drive-in movies, and McDonald’s drive-through.

Sinatra and Elvis the Pelvis first pushed the envelope, then the Baby Boomer gen questioned everything. Skepticism ruled the day.

(I still remembered one classmate’s comment that “they kept us in school to keep the unemployment rate down”).

Their legacy remains with us today (coffee-house, open source, social network etc..).

They would rather go overseas to teach ( Peace Corps) and to build (Habitat for Humanity), than to bomb.

“Ask not…”.

Have you seen “Special Olympics” just for disabled children?

The husband sent young American volunteers overseas, while his wife cheering “Special Olympians” at home

(son-in-law kept promising that “I’ll be back”). Bono who sang “I still haven’t found, what I am looking for” had a close-tied memory of them.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/opinion/20bono.html?_r=1&hp
“Nobody does it better”. I often got a knock on the door just to see two guys in short sleeves and black tie (the Mormons). At least, they dedicated themselves to learn a foreign language (good enough to get appointed to ambassadorship in China). At the end of life (in this case, 95-year-run), what would be our legacy?

No longer with hair, boomers (born in between 46-64) are retiring en mass, but still with elastic age (male) and cosmetic surgery (female).

Hefner just got engaged again, while Demi Moore hooked up with man demi-age.

The Greatest Generation preceded Boomers’ and their strong stance gave rise to a Hegelian anti-thesis ( “the Kids are all right” or Elton John on the magazine cover again, this time with husband-and- baby to redefine the nuclear family). So, the Industrial revolution (itself anti-thesis to the agrarian past) is now winding down to pass the torch to the digital natives. Each generation must define their space, whether it is a cow barn or a cubicle, or caught in a smokestack or smokescreen. And when they are on the move, it’s in their own term and time-table. Many chose Peace Corps. Others simply back-pack on this Lonely Planet, a self-imposed draft. Louis L’Amour was right,

the problem with mankind is that he cannot stay in one place.

Today, people still want to study abroad, but not in Oxford or Cambridge. They are turning East, just as Harvey Cox predicted 40+ years ago (remember the George Harrison learning the sitar, which we will hear again in Norwegian Wood, the film).

It’s get too crowded, hence innovation by necessity. There aren’t that much room at the top, hence flat organization.

As a famous line from the sixties “what it is ain’t exactly clear”. But something is definitely happenin!.

The torch will get passed on. Time does the very best of us in. Stay hungry, stay connected.

 

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