Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Boomers Going Hungry in Old Age

Yours for only $291,000: The Winnebago Vectra

A new study shows what any fool could have told us: the majority of the Baby Boomer generation will outlive their savings.

In other words, we their children and grandchildren will have to pay for them.

The Baby Boomers, long ago nicknamed the "Me Generation," the people who brought us Woodstock and Yuppies, are now eligible for AARP membership. Millions of them are woefully unprepared for the challenge of old age.

Somebody will have to care for them, and that somebody will be whoever's in their prime productive years. In fact, loving elderly Boomers may well be the main thing we do with our next forty years. It will be an awesome responsibility, and an opportunity, too: we have before us the chance to reshape the history of generational relationships.

As might be expected, of course, there is a backlash growing. Among people my age (early 30s) anti-Boomer resentment is not hard to find. Boomers are accused of all range of ills, real and imaginary. They're supposedly self-absorbed. They're reckless spenders, and refuse to share leadership with younger people. "Boomer" is a four-letter word in many circles, including in sectors of the church. I've even seen a "Baby Boomer Death Counter."

Children have rebelled against their parents since the beginning of time, but the last half century has been awful: from James Dean to Eminem, youth have had progressively worse relationships with parents. But by God's grace, we can break the cycle and show the world God's love by how we love the Me Generation.

This project—Blessed Are The Uncool—is about reimagining life without the crutch of coolness. I've had the sense that life could be fuller and more colorful and more, well, alive—without our wasted efforts at cool, without our pathetic individual rebellions.

We don't have to reproduce this generational divisiveness: that's the revolutionary power of the gospel. Just as Christ broke sin's stranglehold by forgiving sinners, we can actually change world history here. In our lives, in our time, we have a shot at undoing thousands of years of sinful disrespect for the old.

Adults throughout history have taken care of their parents and children simultaneously. What sets our generation apart is that we will have more old people than children to care for. Taking care of the Baby Boomers will be the greatest moral challenge our generation faces—how we do it will be the measure of our character.

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Photo Credit: Winnebago Industries



At 10:31 AM, January 15, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Paul: I came to your blog via a Google Alert I received on tallgrass prairie. As a 57-year old boomer, I always feel compelled to comment on gross generalizations about the generations. Some of us boomers, myself included, grew up without everything being handed to us. We have studied hard, worked hard, saved money, volunteered time to and financially supported causes we believe in, cared for elderly parents, and, most recently for me, held their hands and sang favorite hymns to them while they were dying. I've read ridiculously negative generalizations about Gen X and don't buy them. Each individual on this earth is just that, an individual. I count people of all ages my friends and want to encourage others to do so, as well. Thanks so much for your well-written pieces! *Ann in Boulder


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