What Sort of Legacy are You Leaving? by Robin Trimingham
This week a somewhat controversial article appeared in The Huffington Post which asked “Are Baby Boomers a Generation of Sociopaths?”.
To be fair in case you don’t click on the link, I will tell you that the article is actually a commentary on a new book by writer and venture capitalist Bruce Gibney. Following the train of thought that the Baby Boomers are the original “me” generation of the 1970’s, he concludes that they have squandered resources, racked up mountains of debt and used their numbers to vote in legislation that benefited themselves without any regard for future generations.
Ok, having been chauffeured around in the back of my Dad’s Ford Custom 500 as a child in the pre-OPEC oil embargo era, Gibney may have a point about squandering natural resources – our family car was literally a metal boat with white wall tires and we had one of the smaller monstrosities on our street. Emission control was non-existent and the size of the engine was much more important than miles per gallon.
Having said this, I don’t agree with much of what he says regarding the personality of Baby Boomers; specifically, that boomers have significantly higher levels of antisocial traits “including lack of empathy, disregard for others, egotism and impulsivity than other generations”.
I think it’s easy to look backwards and point out the flaws and missteps of a generation once you know how the inning turned out and really not that relevant given that we all know that you can’t turn back time – you can only do your best at the time and learn from you experiences and mistakes.
I also think that Baby Boomers have had more frenetic stress and technology thrown at them than any previous generation and are continually challenged to find ways to keep pace with this and form meaningful relationships with their young relatives.
My grandfather wrote me poems in sturdy block letters in the hope that I might have a small piece of him to hold onto when he was gone. Reading these poems as an adult gave me a window into the mind of a man I frequently played checkers with but seldom talked to as a child. I still wonder about some of the things he had to say and I think writing any sort of story or letter for young children to read in later life is something that every grandparent ought to do.
If you don’t know what to say, simply do what one grandfather in Texas did and keep a journal of all the times that you spend with your small charges. According to MSN.com he filled three notebooks with encounters of the early years of his granddaughter’s life and presented them to her on her sixteenth birthday much to her delight.
Whether you have a lot of time and a lot of money or not, it is the legacy of time well spent together that will carry future generations forward. Why not share your life lessons and silly stories with the child in your life?
By Robin Trimingham