My Dad is 90 and he’s definitely part of the “old school” of work. If you just work hard enough, fast enough, often enough… everything will work out for you.
My nephew, who has lived in the UK with his mother since he was a child, is taking advantage of the opportunity to spend 6 months with his grandfather. And my father is ruining this time by insisting that the only reason my nephew can’t find/keep a job in the UK is because he is lazy. Dad’s determined that he is going to “fix” my nephew.
I love my Dad and know that his desire and ability to work under some rather extreme conditions is part of who he is. I despair that he cannot see that the opportunities that came his way 70 years ago no longer exist. I both mourn and praise the passing of those opportunities.
Now there’s mucho family dynamics and other things going on that I won’t get into here, but I’m fairly disgusted at my Dad’s stand that laziness is the only reason that one isn’t successful.
My situation at home prevents me (at this moment, at least) from traveling the 120 miles to see for myself what’s really going on… but, from my nephew’s messages I glean the remnants of my own childhood, his mother’s childhood, and much from all the times since. I’ve heard before (numerous times) all the things that are upsetting my nephew.
The greatest generation, in addition to facing great challenges, also had the greatest opportunities this country has offered in the last 100 years.
Ron, that’s such a great post. I understood all of it- usually your asides are way over my head:0)!!
It’s funny, Donna- how you think of your Dad when i was just thinking of my folks in this same way yesterday. The Greatest generation- i wondered if that was what they were called. How each gender had definitive edges and importance whereas the gens to come afterward were/are jockeying for recognition w/no boundaries.
I realize my impression may upset some- especially those who gave their all to break the walls and ceiling of the prefect little playhouse. I felt safe w/in that house. I had great teachers- even if one smelled of Vodka and the other hung on to sanity by pure grit. It has all worked out in the end. I’m definitely no Feminist- even though i work w/in a male-oriented sphere(which is getting more pink-collared by the year:0)). I take my knocks- the joking of who wears the pants is a daily ritual. Being in our profession gives us a job- and a life.
I wonder if my kids will ever admire me the way that i admire my parents and even my Grandparents. The selflessness of our past generations seems so tangible to me, yet- was it really there at all or is my nostalgia for the pride, the truth and the high ground due to some morphing of rose-colored glasses over my sight.
Or- is everyone now just that much jaded? Not w/the jobs- w/the times.
“The greatest generation, in addition to facing great challenges, also had the greatest opportunities this country has offered in the last 100 years.”
They were a small generation in a small world at the beginning of a technological explosion. Their challenges were concrete and their moral boundaries apparently clear (no doubts about that War). Their world was linear and analog: there was, or at least could be, a direct relationship between the amount of work put in and the results that came out.
In our world, hard, honest work, or the willingness to do it, more often than not gets you nothing. (Except maybe on an organic dairy farm.) We are in an “attention economy” where the way to prosper is to “go viral,” whether for your name and your butt (Kardashians), your bad behavior (“twerking”), or your ingenuity or luck in figuring out how to go viral. Or else be in finance and learn how to juggle arcane financial “derivatives.” The real meritocracy of our time—artists, entertainers, tech innovators—is still very hard-working, but it’s hard, clever work
Amba, you’re certainly giving us clues as to what comes next! Maybe not in today’s form, but some combination! Perhaps we will have an “attention economy” but at smaller scales. If this is so, we may be returning to the world of more personal connections! There are bad aspects of that, but it brings a human scale to life that’s been missing.
After the divorce is final, we will need two things.
First, we have to provide for the people (and there are a lot of them) who need a steady job to provide structure to their lives. They may not love the job they have, but they need it. (And, when they retire, either have to find some new work, even if unpaid volunteer work. Or they die fairly soon.)
Second, we have to provide some way to move up economically. In our parents’ (or grandparents’) day, hard work would provide a way to “get ahead.” Today, technical cleverness may be the route. But what matters is that there be a way. Because if the new economy doesn’t provide that kind of opportunity, it will get smashed by those who want that chance, and insist on having it.
My dad’s almost 90 and old-school and he KNOWS it’s different now. He laments that a good work ethic and loyalty don’t get you anywhere anymore. So at least I don’t have to prove to him that I’m not lazy. It takes some of the strain off.