We may wake up some day and find them all gone. With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the question has arisen: Are they in the bulls-eye of the Corona virus target?
I am talking about the Baby Boomers—that generation of men and women that, at present, take a senior leadership role in our private and public sectors or in some cases have retreated into the golden years of retirement.
Now in their old age, this rambunctious crew of Ragamuffins who in their youth gave us so much love and grief at the same time, now speak out, as elders, to shake up the national conversation and give historical perspective on the problems we face. (Even though history seems to be lost to this generation.) Boomers have never shied away from speaking their mind.
In a general sense, this penchant for telling stories and re-hashing the past is true of all elderly. History comes into sharper perspective and focus from a view of 30,000 feet, so to speak. But it is especially true of the Boomers, who are the most “visionary” of the generational cohorts, that they will not stop bloviating about the past. They want to change the present in order to save us from the future.
The “Gray Champions” who preside on the geopolitical stage right now, are Donald Trump (Boomer, born 1946), Angela Merkle (Boomer, born 1954) and Boris Johnson (Boomer, born 1964—last year of eligibility), Russian President Vladimir Putin (Boomer, 1952) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Boomer, 1954), and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Boomer, 1949). Each one of these leaders could be viewed as a “Gray Champion” in their respective countries. (Two of them, at posting, have already tested positive for Covid-19.)
The Boomer Penchant for Greatness
Trump’s motto is “Make America Great Again.” Putin is bent on restoring Russia to her former greatness. Merkel is leading the entire EU into the 21st century and has been described as “the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and by some commentators as the “leader of the free world.” Boris Johnson is certainly out to make Britain great again, much like the man he very emulates on the other side of the Atlantic. Chi, of course, is leading China into the 21st century with the goal of world economic domination by 2045. Benjamin Netanyahu is a champion of Israel.
Boomers are a fiery, often controversial generation. These are the same people who as young adults brought us Woodstock, Vietnam protests that led to the burning of draft cards and University campus buildings, the Kent State tragedy (where 4 student protestors were gunned down and killed by the National Guard in Ohio in 1970—with another 9 wounded), the hippy movement, the Jesus people, Bob Dylan—on and on goes the list. The archetype of the Boomers, according to historians William Strauss and Neil Howe is that of “Prophet.” Prophets are not tame. They speak out and get in trouble again and again. They do it because it is their passion.
Fast forward 50 years and the Boomers are still stirring things up. That’s what they do! Not all of them find themselves in a position to shake the world like a Trump or a Putin. But rest assured, they will speak their mind at the dinner table, on the golf course or on social media.
Below are three examples of three Hollywood Boomers who have spoken out on the National stage in recent memory. Warning: viewer discretion advised!
Clint Eastwood talks to the “empty chair” that symbolizes Obama at the Republican National Convention in 2012.
Robert DeNiro unloads on candidate Donald Trump in a campaign ad in October 2016.
John Voight dons his Boomer “prophet” cap and declares hope to a hurting nation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a full-frontal assault of the elderly in our communities by an invisible enemy. This virus is “novel” because it by and large only kills the elderly. And while there is a small fraction of the “Greatest Generation” cohort still alive (born prior to World War II), the Boomers are by far the largest target of the virus. There are 73 millions Boomers in the US, and 52 million of them are over age 65, right smack in the cross-hairs of Covid-19.
Long before the Covid-19 virus came on the scene, the members of the Boomer Generation have been dismissed as “old school.” With the unfolding of Postmodernism over the past few decades, Boomers are largely branded as dinosaurs who are “out of touch with the times” at best and “the enemy that must be destroyed” at worst.
The Bible clinging, gun toting, Trump supporting Boomers are the “deplorables” that pollute what otherwise would be a truly refined, progressive society. They stand in the way of the new Postmodern revolution that is just waiting to sweep the world. So goes the reasoning of the young Progressive Millennials.
There’s only one problem: the Boomers, passionate visionaries that they are, refuse to ride off into the sunset. They are not finished yet. And it just so happens that they possess a mother-load of wisdom, gut instinct, spiritual insight and get-it-done work ethic that the world desperately needs right now.
The fact is, if the Covid-19 virus were to kill all the Boomers in the world over the next 90 days, the Millennials probably wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. It would be an apocalyptic “Houston, we have a problem” moment! Naturally, they don’t see it that way, which underscores the root of the problem.
The Clash of the Generations
Millennials may scratch their heads at the passionate, visionary fire displayed by senior Boomers. They take a passive “every thing’s cool” attitude about life. Having grown up as iPod children, they find it much easier to scan the surface of things to forage for entertainment, feel-good input and social engagement. Why all the fuss about the “world going to hell in a hand-basket” they say. And what is a hand-basket anyway? (It is actually a term coined during the Civil War, when hand-held baskets were common.)
The typical response from a Boomer senior goes something like this: “What the hell is wrong with the Millennials? When are they going to get it together?”
The frustration of elder Boomers at the often lackadaisical, shiftless demeanor of Millennials is real. I know. I experience it often.
I saw a post on Facebook not long ago, in reference to Millennials being willing to do their part to socially distance themselves in order to protect the seniors who are the most vulnerable. The post read:
“They hit the beaches of Iwo Jima so we could all live prosperous and free. All we are asking you to do is sit in the couch. You can do this!”
This thought has occurred to countless Boomer elders across the country, I’m sure, on a regular basis.
I can personally attest to the frustration a Boomer experiences when confronted with Millennial passiveness. Having done all I can to transfer my fire to a Millennial acquaintance, there are many times I just want to walk away and sulk, like the ancient prophet ancient Elijah.
Elijah the Boomer Prophet
Elijah, who no doubt was a Boomer, had his ups and downs. One minute he was calling down fire from heaven and the next minute he was fleeing for his life for fear of a woman named Jezebel. That’s right, history doesn’t exactly repeat itself, but it does rhyme! Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah. So what did God’s man of the hour, full of faith and power, do?
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life…” (1 Kings 19:3)
Eventually God comes along and sees Elijah laying down in a fetal position on the desert floor, waiting to die.
In a still small voice, God says “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah pours his heart out to God.
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:14)
This wasn’t exactly true, of course. But the overblown ego of a Boomer combined with the manic-depressant tendencies that can come with this passionate visionary archetype can result in this kind of reaction.
Like Elijah, we Boomer elders can feel alone in our plight when we encounter Millennials who just don’t seem to care. Instead of putting the “hand to the plow” for a greater cause, we see the Millennials as a generation that sits there with an open hand of entitlement. The “give me” generation.
But God replied to Elijah–and says to us– with a well-needed dose of perspective:
“I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal.” (1 Kings 19:18)
I believe God has reserved a remnant in every generation, called out to be a part of his world-changing army. Not all answer the call and run to the challenge. But those some become firebrands in God’s hand and make an eternal mark on their generation.
Looking at the political battle we are facing against godless Progressivism in the United States, it would be easy to get discouraged and assume that Millennials are a lost cause. How on earth can these Millennials champion a Bernie Sanders. For example? Here is a 79-year-old white man whose only possible attraction to the left is that he is a Marxist-Socialist.
There is a faithful remnant out there. God has raised up some powerful Millennial voices in our country, calling us back to our roots. I think of Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, Katie Pavlich and many others who are stepping up and speaking out. So many more I could mention. we know who they are. Some of them are our own children.
There is hope. Let us not lose heart!