During my idyllic childhood growing up in North Dakota, I spent the majority of my time writing stories about children living in peaceful valleys with all their family members living nearby. Everyone was within at least a short driving distance from each other and all was well and everyone was happy and safe.
I had no concept of corruption, greed and unfairness. I couldn’t even grasp the concept of war. Vietnam, in my child’s mind, was just “the place the Army people go.”
And then the Watergate hearings preempted our after-school cartoons, jarring my peaceful daily routine. What child wants to watch a bunch of angry old men blabbering on about something so boring and meaningless? Geez, we only had 2 channels (or maybe there was 3?) to choose from on a black and white Zenith so big you could have gutted it and taken a bath in the cabinet! So I’d retreat to my room and go write stories of happy people living in peaceful valleys with plenty of kittens, puppies and horses.
I think that’s when cynicism took root in my soul. I like to say I haven’t had any faith in the US Government since they preempted our after-school cartoons for the Watergate hearings.
OK so the government is corrupt. But you can trust the medical profession, right? Decades ago doctors promoted cigarette smoking
! How insane is THAT? We still have active lobbyists and pharmacy reps influencing our government and physicians. Every week some new study proves some new health benefit (or threat, depending on whichever way the wind blows). Eggs are bad for you! Use egg substitute instead. No, wait! Eggs are actually GOOD for you! Margarine will save you from the fat and cholesterol in butter. UPDATE: Margarine is 1 molecule away from plastic–eat butter instead!
I used to religiously follow these updates. And then my cynicism grew even more.
Because you can stay out of the sun, exercise, eat right, do ALL the right things, and still develop a terminal illness.
My generation is listed as 1965-1984, making me the oldest of the Gen-Xers. We are characterized by our cynicism, being the first generation not expected to go further economically than our parents’.
You don’t hear much about my generation; we are already outnumbered by the Millennials. I put whatever faith and hope I have left in them, as a lot of them seem to be activists determined to annihilate a lot of the corruption that’s tarnished past generations. I wish them luck. I truly hope they can save us.
Again, the refrain Attitude is Everything reverberates through my head, and I catalog my blessings in a gratitude journal, truly thankful for all that we have. When life becomes discouraging, the only thing one can control is one’s own attitude. So I keep as positive as I can despite the bombardment of negative headlines and personal setbacks.
Tough to do when you’re a cynical Gen-Xer, but with a deep breath and shoulders back, I’ll leave the untroubled valley of my imagination and approach the Real World with all the strength and fortitude I can muster.