Why I’m not worried about the kids

Well, at least she didn’t use ‘existential’. Apart from that saving grace, there was little I could relate to in Julie Szago’s piece (‘Slacker generation bowed down by recrimination’). 

Was this all a piece of projection? Bowed down? Recrimination? A wasted twenty years? Speak for yourself. It reeked of a childlike nostalgia for simple answers and couldn’t articulate a vision, or even any element of it, that she says she craves. 

Looking to apportion blame, here or anywhere, is a juvenile nostalgia for a time when we/someone had all the answers. Keating’s giant steps felt good and had a few lasting impacts, but we loved the show most of all. A ‘heaviness’ because we don’t have that once in a generation politician is one I can live with. I loved Keating’s three years and his vision as much as the next person. But if he’d lost, we wouldn’t have had Howard. Growing up means understanding it’s mostly swings and roundabouts and that means there’s hope for the future too. 

Yes, we grew up in the shade of the Cold War. I remember thinking as a teenager that I probably wouldn’t see adulthood.  But, the thing is, we grew out of that. We realised the complexity of life once we looked through an adult lens.

Roe v Wade is now on the ropes. Dark days indeed. Will we be the first generation to withdraw rights, to leave behind a less equal society? I get that fear but thinking that this fight, or any fight, is being played out in worse times than ever before is self-aggrandising.  Many many Americans have seen this coming and been planning for it for decades. There are contingencies. Lobbies. Resources.

Have we really cocked it up more badly than previous generations? It’s a throwing up of hands about doing anything at all. Growing up is accepting that sometimes we might only be able to take small steps. I worked hard for the Australian republic in the 90s.  We lost. It was awful but it wasn’t the end-times. And while I will always vote Yes in any future referendum, I feel now that we need to reconcile with our First Nations people or we replace one colonising institution with another. This is something to work for and we need to. We weren’t always right.

When we got engaged, my partner asked how I felt about the pitter-patter of tiny flatmates. Well, we have three young adults living with us, sometimes four when my elder daughter’s partner stays, and they’re great. I’m not worried about them. I see respect and safety and love. 

I look at their generation and know they have a task in front of them, one we’ve left them, we and our forebears, but I don’t regret having them. I can’t get my head around that thought. I don’t think the kids regret it either. They are self-aware but I don’t see self-loathing. Projection again?  Greta Thunberg has spoken about a cautious optimism now. 

 They embrace their friends, support each other, study, work. They accept—‘You don’t “come out” anymore, you just “are”’ one said recently to their parent. And they are a zillion times better with alcohol consumption that I was at their age. When I tell them to be careful with drinking if they are taking the car, they can’t believe the extent of my wrongheadedness, ‘Nobody does that.’  

Try lifting your head above the parapet, quitting the self-indulgence and see the work going on around you. It gives hope. I recommend it.


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