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I am a child of the sixties, the decade when four lads from Liverpool were changing pop culture forever, the United States were fighting a losing battle in some far away country (good to see somethings don't change!), hippies were heading to San Francisco for the summer of love! ...And with a controversial and celebrity president in the White House, the world came closer to Armageddon than at any other time in our history. Well... until now, perhaps!
But if I was a child of the sixties, I am without a doubt a product of the eighties. My formative years spent in the decade of big hair (and that was just the male population!) shoulder pads, Lycra, and of course, those behemoths of pop Bananarama! The world felt a safer place. The Berlin wall came down, the old Soviet Union collapsed, and of course, through a chap called Gordon Gecko (Google him) we discovered lunch really was for wimps!
All of which makes me part of generation X—no, not the 70s punk band—but a member of society that is sandwiched between the baby boomers of the early sixties, and the millennials of the eighties and nineties. For some reason referred to by the marketers, as the “slacker generation.”
I am not sure how they came up with that definition, I personally prefer to think of us as "movers and shakers." The awesome generation of leaders that are currently shaping and influencing the world we inhabit. We are the people who have overseen some of the most amazing and remarkable changes in the way we live, the way we work, and, probably most significantly, the way we communicate and interact with each other on a worldwide scale never seen before.
We are also the generation that made greed good! (Mr. Gecko again) And fostered the growth of consumerism and commoditisation on an unprecedented scale. The work hard, play hard generation, responsible for the rise of the global brands that now surround us. And what’s more, we are the ones with the wealth to spend on those very brands!
So, you could be forgiven for thinking that life as part of generation X is pretty good. And I have to say from a personal perspective it is. But there is a downside. Unfortunately, we are also the use it and abuse it, throw it away generation that has taken more from our planet than any other before, or since. And as the millennials and generation zed'ers out there will tell you, we are the guys that have done a pretty good job in fucking up the future for them!
And it's hard to really argue that. It's only now we are starting to see the catastrophic consequences of our actions over the last 50 years. The mass deforestation, the exponential rise in fossil fuel usage. (In just 100 years, we will have exhausted what it’s taken tens of millions of years to create.) And none of this takes into account anything that the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has in store for the world after he's built his wall!
I live in the UK and have two adult millennial children who are inheriting a vastly different world to the one I faced as a twenty-year-old. All I had to contend with was mass unemployment, some dodgy eighties music! And, my wife excluded (mainly because she would kill me! ...And she really was different!) girls who were nowhere near as enlightened, confident, interesting, and forthright as they are now!
But for my children, the picture is a whole lot scarier; climate change, toxic social network pressure, terrorism on an unprecedented and unimaginable scale, and... oh yeah, two lunatics with their finger's on the button of 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal!
Now I must stress that this is only my view of things, and clearly, there are those that think global warming and climate change are a lie (because there's just so much darn evidence out there to support that argument!) And that Mr. T (that's not the one with a Mohawk and the gold chains!) is a politician that is way ahead of his time! But I suspect they are the same people who think Elvis is alive and well on the moon, and that Brexit is actually a good idea!
As if my kids didn't have enough other shit to keep them awake at night, they have good old Brexit to look forward too. Brexit—our withdrawal from the European union, voted for in the main, by the boomers and beyond (the guys even older than me!), half of whom will never live long enough to see the impact that their actions will have on those young enough to have to deal with its full ramifications.
If you live in the UK, you simply can't escape it. On a nightly basis, we get to watch as our incompetent and clueless leaders argue and posture on how we deal with our imminent withdrawal. With each side of the divide trying desperately to convince us that their way is best. All this whilst Rome (or is that Honda these days!) slowly burns in the background!
For any Americans reading this—in simple terms—it would be akin to California leaving the union and going it alone. With new borders, passport controls, and trade deals needed with the rest of the States. But wait... didn’t you guys try that once already a while ago? I am not sure even good old Donald would want to go there again, though I wouldn't really put anything past him!
It’s bizarre and more than a little worrying that the hypocrites in Westminster are quite happy to denounce the recent elections in Venezuela as unconstitutional, non-democratic and suggesting electoral fraud. But it's OK for them to lie their arse's off over Brexit, dupe half the population of the UK into believing they will be better off, and then call the result democracy!
I am not a huge film buff, but I once saw a movie called Brewster's Millions where Richard Pryor campaigns for election as the Mayor of New York City on a campaign slogan of "None of the above." This in reference to the cheating and lying competitors that are above him on the ballot paper. And that's exactly how I feel with our current crop of politicians. I wouldn't trust any of them to construct a valid case to dispute if Elvis really is alive and well on the moon. Let alone allow them to navigate our way out of Europe!
The state of our political system is so depressing at present, that If I were a few years younger I think I would actually consider entering mainstream politics. Using the same "None of the Above" strapline and proposing some sweeping changes to our voting system!
At the moment in the UK, unless you are Scottish, you don't get to vote till you are 18. (This, because you are not deemed responsible enough!) So why not remove it for the over 75s as well? In the twilight of life's journey, are they any more responsible? Should they have any more say in the future of the country than a 16-year-old? Clearly, there are exceptions to every rule, after all, why else does the House of Lords exist! But let's face it, with the dementia rate on the increase, half of them wouldn't even know they had lost the vote, and the other half really wouldn't care!
Okay, so it's slightly radical, I know, but it would shake things up a bit and stop the older generation, who have had their time, inflicting any more pain on the people who are going to have to pick up the pieces.
At this point, I should apologise to anyone offended by comments about dementia. My mom spent the last five years of her life with Alzheimer's, so I am well versed in the nuances of this terrible disease and my gallows humour is one of the best ways of dealing with it.
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter whether you are generation X, Y or Z, or even part of the complete moron contingent, like Mr. T himself (that's the White House version again, not the Mohawk bloke!)
I am by no means a tree hugger, but we have a collective responsibility for this beautiful planet of ours, and if we don't start to respect it and appreciate it more than we do now, we really will fuck it up beyond repair. So, it’s up to all of us to look at our own lifestyles and change the way we do things. And it doesn't need to be huge. At the age of 53, I've recently become a vegetarian! Why? Because the meat industry is one of the single biggest contributors to global warming. So, I feel it's a small price to pay to help safeguard the future for my children, and hopefully my children's, children's children.
And if we don't do something now, you can imagine the scene in a couple of hundred years’ time... A group of people sitting around a fire in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world. Like the periods of the Mesozoic era, one of the elders is regaling the history of past generations. When he gets to generation X, his audience hushes and Monty Python-like, a youngster asks, "Generation X, what did they do for us?" The elder pauses and considers his response, as he quietly fiddles with his antique 1980s Sony Walkman. "Oh, they were the generation of slackers who fucked up the planet for us, but we should rejoice, because without them we wouldn't have Bananarama." ...Queue Venus!