Ever stop to contemplate the path of truth for the Boomers generation? I’m talking about the values of our generation. We all had certainly had very strong and consistent values growing up: respect your elders, revere wisdom from our grandparents, study hard at school, practice piano every day, help with brothers and sisters, memorize your catechism, go to church every Sunday, help mom with dinner and help dad clean up, do chores, act with kindness, graduate from high school, go to college, marry, have kids, and continue the cycle. We learned from our parents how to conduct ourselves in society, in our personal lives and to practice responsibility.
This was our path of truth, our Dharma as it is known in Buddhism. I can only speak from my own experiences, however, most of my old school chums from our small towns north of San Francisco continue to live their truth, their values and ethics. When I went to my 50th high school reunion in 2011, I was amazed that those I encountered on that memorable weekend were much the same people I went to school with, danced with, had slumber parties with, cheered with, studied with. We planned our futures together.
Boomers contributed to our society by working hard, sending kids to college and making sure retirement was secure. Along the way we helped others and continued to give small kindnesses to their communities. And, of course, we all thought the journey that expressed our values was going to last forever.
Yet, there were inconsistencies. Money got the best of some of us and greed creeped into our value system. It wasn’t a pretty picture. And then the inevitable happened: the recession happened and for those who worked hard and lost savings, the smooth and consistent path was compromised. It was a shock and we all had to adapt, regroup and streamline.
Along the way, there were also losses that didn’t revolve around the acquisition of money. Sure jobs were lost and dreams were shattered for that expensive cruise every year. However, we also lost friends, lovers, husbands, children and these kinds of losses were more shattering than anything we could have realized. Welcome to being a Baby Boomer.
What I noticed from talking to my Boomer friends from school, from other boomers I’ve encountered is that their path of truth remained consistent, their work ethic was always available, their values stayed consistent. For a generation that witnessed the assassination of a president when they were in their teens, to being drafted into a protracted war in Vietnam and suffering the after effects, to political malfeasance and the ups and downs in our economy, we stayed relatively strong and reliable – and more importantly resilient.
So I offer today my congratulations to my fellow Boomers and here’s hoping that those who are at the tail end of this generation will persistently be true to their Dharma, their path of truth and continue to thrive with positive energy as they enter their 60s and, for some of us, our 70s. Our ability to adapt and change along the way is our greatest gift. Let’s keep it that way.