Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ukraine: Coming Of Age For Baby-Boomers?

Well. In our arrogance, we truly believed we had defeated The Bear in 1991. But we hadn't. We'd merely defeated Communism. And just set The Bear back a few decades.

I'm sure I could find a generation of mankind more arrogant, less informed and less inclusive than the Baby Boom generation and its various alphabetic offshoots (X, Y, whatever). But I suspect it would be difficult.

In the Eighties, we thought we had invented a new economy. Socialism was a thing of the past. Communism about to be. All was growth, and wealth, and ownership, and pretty baubles - to be shared by everyone, if you could use your Oxford/Harvard education to catch the trickle on its way down.

No need to ask, to double-check, to reference history. We were breaking down barriers, weren't we? Social mobility was the key. Say it often enough, and poverty would disappear. Democracy? Sure. But isn't that just telling other folks what's best for them?

And how could this be nirvana unless the rest of the world shared it too? At the end of a gun if necessary. No, no, don't call it invasion. It's nation building.

How can we be wrong? We're connected. No-one's going to do anything bad if we can see them.

Besides. Who's going to be upset? All the bad people are gone. We're all righteous now.

All that talk of national character and nationalistic fear, ptooey. Gone. We're one global family now.

Same thing with co-op's (yes, I'm going to make this local as well as global). We re-invented co-operation in the Eighties. Did away with hippies and pallets. Brought in 'professionals.'

All is now bigger and better. Today, over yesterday. This year, over last. Who needs to ask co-op owners what are their needs? We know best. 'Cos we're professionals.

And so we, the West, we stroll into Ukraine. To set things right. 'Cos we know best. We stroll into Russia's backyard, without asking. Without checking to see if that fear of being surrounded by enemies, a nationalistic trait of The Bear going back hundreds of years, without checking to see if it still lay simmering, an inch below the surface -

And look. There it is. We can hardly complain when Russia says it's protecting its national interests. The West has been stomping around the globe the past twenty years, merrily 'nation-building' so as to protect its interests and its citizens. Now that Russia is back in the economic game, staging Olympics, wearing big-boy trousers and all, why shouldn't it get to 'nation-build,' too?

And so. This generation isn't so different after all. We didn't re-invent economy. We didn't bring about the end of history. We didn't improve co-operation. We just made the same mistakes, without admitting it.

We aren't better informed, just because we have smartphones. You have to access history to be educated.

We aren't different as human beings, just because the world grew smaller. Same old instincts. Same old fears. You have actually to do something to end poverty. Not just post a meme about it.

Maybe this will be our wake-up call? Our coming of age. Locally, nationally, internationally. Maybe we'll realize it isn't about being bigger, better, richer, more connected? It's about doing the decent thing, and asking first.

Most folks blame Thatcher and Reagan. I don't. I blame John Cusack.

Beginning in the Eighties, Baby-Boomers, X, Y, Millennials, et al, we all thought we were inventing perfection. That all was forward progress. No backtracking.

For me though, I just thought that nothing could go wrong after John Cusack in Say Anything ...