If you have any exposure to millennial politics on the fringes of the internet, then you might have some awareness of how the Boomers royally screwed over our futures for generations to come. The generation that had the most unprecedented first world economic growth, opportunities, relative peace and stability, etc. simultaneously became the most cravenly selfish and entitled generation. This is worse than the older boomers that are now expecting their Gen-x and millennial children to sit in passive, quiet desperation as the “golden years” of travelling during retirement and decrepitude via healthcare costs are going to eat up their inheritance. We all know the evils of the ’60s boomers, and we lament our plight over the economically stagnant, globalized, deracinated and culturally barren world they left us in. Little do we think of the relatively younger generation of boomers, the Reagan children whom were teens and young adults in the late ’70s and ’80s, those newly coming into retirement age, when factoring in our visceral hatred of Boomerism.
In this short musing, I will give you, dear reader, a personal example of mine, one that could possibly show that there is some redemption to the late boomers, those that will be the first to suffer at the hands of the greed and rapturous egoism of their older siblings; before I lay out my case, let me remind people that BoomerismTM is not a monolith. There are even older boomers, the ones that actually stuck to their hippie principles back in the day, that choose to live modest lives in older age. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that profile retired Boomers living on the streets, in tents, in RVs, tiny homes, etc. that were simply left behind in one way or another by the system. One can learn some wisdom from salt of the earth types of Boomers, and after getting past some of their cemented ways of thinking and political opinions, you can generally find some very useful advice, and pick up some skills from them.
Again, not all Boomers are the same, and ones that dwell primarily in small towns, semi-rural places, etc. are the ones worth spending time with. Here in the small-town outreaches of Ontario, you can generally distinguish between those honest and decent Boomers, and ones that have migrated in retirement from the greater Toronto area to buy cheap McMansions. They sell their homes in TO for exorbitant rates (driving up the cost of housing for younger people) and them spread fourth to bedroom communities, often in Ontario wine-country, where they get to harass local farmers about petty nonsense like noise pollution. They also have a habit of trying to pass other local ordinances of nuisance. This is a phenomenon that is practically ubiquitous among the bordering small towns along North American metropolis cities, the retirees sucking up what monetary resources they can, and escaping the bug-like existence of cities filled to the brim by venturing into suburbia, let’s call it “aging yuppie flight”.
But again, this article is about late Boomer (like late Doomer) redemption of sorts. My small example comes from personal experience (without naming the location in question of course); the gaggle of towns in my local area were pretty much ethnic southern and eastern European, and mostly Catholic, enclaves that thrived in the post-war industrial boom. Now that globalization, NAFTA, etc. has wreaked havoc upon all North American industrial heartlands, the story is all too familiar, and all too banal. My region of Ontario is basically a bedroom/retirement community now, loads of retiring boomers, semi jobless or gig-economy millennials that couldn’t hack it in the big cities who moved back in with their parents (the so-called “boomerang generation”), etc. However, there still are often a few things that keep communities together, and one of them, at least in my example, is the local Catholic Church, and more importantly, the adjacent church hall.
The hall has been around for generations, and practically everyone in my town has memories of it, from weddings, bazaars, school events, etc. Unfortunately, like many church properties, there is a lack of funds, aging, dilapidating conditions, and the last bits of remodeling done somewhere in the ’80s and ’90s. There are meetings as to what should be done, and like always, predatory developers swoop in to try and alleviate the church of toughing it out. A few have tried to convince the diocese that trading in a beloved building, and all of the town functions and traditions that go with it, for a short-term monetary gain is “worth it”. More condos or senior’s apartments will be built, and with it, more people will simply stop going to church and donating or will find there is little reason to still hold on in general.
Despite these trying times for the Catholic church in general, my town is in an uproar over possibly selling and demolishing the Church hall, and in the outrage, a large contingent of mostly late, semi-retired Boomers have stepped up, from charity organizations, the Knights of Columbus, concert organizers, etc. to say that the hall is worth preserving, and newer streams of revenue can be generated from an open and free-access space. There are numerous small towns across North America that are revitalizing halls, dead malls, abandoned stores, etc. with community activates, art shows, and concerts to name a few ideas. Weddings are pretty much a lost function for church halls now-a-days, but other events and activates that can bring communities of faith together can take their place.
What is the point of this example? Let us bracket our utter (and warranted) contempt for Boomerism for a brief moment. It is simply a cold hard fact that young people do not have the funds, or even the will to engage in volunteer work for multiple hours a-week, let alone sustain a hall by donations and staging events that could potentially revitalize such a space. Older Boomers tend to enjoy the fruits of such revitalizations, like buying art at arts and crafts shows, or seeing jazz, blues and cover bands (complete with boomer classics) but do not have the energy to actually help run community spaces and events. A successful faith community, and really any town that wishes to keep together, needs a contingent of newly retired late boomers looking to actually make a difference. This is the way it used to be, older people that just retired, and housewives (back when they were a thing) used to volunteer in the community, pass on life skills to younger people who would help volunteer as well, and often help keep the church flock alive and well. Small towns across this land are suffering, the atomization once only found in the largest of coastal metropolises has spread to the suburbs. Late Boomers as I have stated, are the first to be dealt a losing hand by the “black pill graph” reality we live in, so it is of vital importance that we should use them to their fullest potential.
While they may be permanently cemented within the political conditioning of their upbringing, the more aware boomers certainly can be brought to some hard-hitting truths about the contemporary world. Perhaps it is up to us millennials and Zoomers to rouse them from complacency, encourage them to put their resources, skills, excess time, etc. to good use. In my area, it is the boomers that are sons and daughters of European immigrants that all have home gardens, do DIY repairs, dabble in interesting hobbies that can be useful, and are generally way more self-sufficient and industrious than the average young person. I suggest an unwritten cultural peace treaty of sorts, an understanding can be had with boomers, and late boomers in particular, one that is mutually beneficial. Perhaps all of us can go out and befriend boomers in small towns that can teach us things, like auto-repair, chopping wood, gardening, cooking, and also encourage them to volunteer and help run vital spaces of community outreach, especially when it comes to faith communities. We can moan about boomers, and I myself have certainly done a fair bit of anti-boomer posting, but perhaps there is another approach to consider, and in this is a modest proposal.