Margin Notes - Blog

Before Boomers Call It a Life

Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia, writes that today’s college protestors are consumed not with rage but with fear. Their insistence on “safe places” and “trigger warnings” does not signal an intolerance of bigotry, but instead “a crisis of confidence” on campus.

Now, don’t misunderstand, Gitlin is not saying this generation of college students lacks passion and even courage. Rather, he’s making the point that their anger is throttled by trepidation. Their progress in facing down dimwitted administrators and systemic bigotry is held in check by their compulsive need to feel safe.

And why shouldn’t they?

They’ve lived their entire lives in a country deformed by “unconditional warfare.” In its politics, its business community, its government, its social and cultural movements, its financial industry, even its sports.

They’re afraid because they’re about to inherit a country that is attacking itself. They’ve grown up watching their parents and grandparents do battle with one another, convinced that anything goes so long as you win because there’s only one winner and everybody else must be a loser.

Want to know why the U.S. Congress doesn’t work? That’s why.

Want to know why there’s so much corruption on Wall Street? That’s why.

Want to know why companies pay their executives big bonuses even as they lay off workers? That’s why.

It’s a hellova’ legacy to leave our kids.

I call it PTSD of the Soul. And it’s what Boomers need to fix before they call it a life.

       November 23rd, 2015