This Emotional Fitness Training blog post explores the gifts of my parents’ generation, called critics of the Greatest or the GI generation. What went wrong?
Emotional fitness thoughts and tip
My mother and father lived through the Great Depression and the horrors of World War II, the Cold War, Viet Nam and all the wars that followed until their death. My father was a news reporter, he published two weekly newspapers, and was a wannabe author. He managed to keep us housed, clothed, and fed, but did not achieve the American Dream in monetary terms. My mother defied her family by eloping with him and went from riches to not quite rags, but a second hand clothes kind of down grade. They never owned a home, had second-hand or make your own clothes, they drove old cars, worried always about money and that was often the cause of their only fights. That said, they held fast to the values of the Greatest Generation.
Tom Brokaw coined the name the Greatest Generation and list its values: “personal responsibility, duty, honor and faith.”
These characteristics helped them to defeat Hitler, build the American economy, make advances in science and carry out visionary programs like Medicare.
According to Brokaw, “[at] every stage of their lives they were part of historic challenges and achievements of a magnitude the world had never before witnessed.”
Some critics, and there are always critics, point out that their record wasn’t so good on Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, or Civil Rights. And yes, those issues were not yet dealt with as they are today.
However, my take varies from condemning them for not being quite up to modern ideas of equality. I think this generation began what became the acceptance of the rights of these three groups.
My grandmother was so bigoted she believed her feelings about those of another race or religion were totally justified. My parents both rejected those beliefs. As for Gays, when I grew up homosexuality was just not talked about. Boys who were dubbed “Sissies” were too often tormented, but my parents attitude was “not a choice, be kind.” Divorce was a bigger sin, for many, but not in my parents eyes. Again a sad thing.
Finally, the war opened jobs for women and planted the seeds of Women’s Liberation. Fact: technological advances that made reliable birth control possible probably played a more important role in freeing women to live lives not dominated by the dictates of their bodies.
To my way of thinking the negative fallout from the Greatest Generation was much subtler. Having endured great hardships, the GG’s wanted most of all to make a better world for their kids. The liberation movements stemmed from that. But so did the eventual enthroning of “happiness parenting.” “Just be happy” replaced the idea of “duty.”
The GG’s passing on their ideals slipped with each passing generation. Sad. In time direct teaching of values and punishments for unacceptable behaviors have become more and more suspect. Sadder and actually happiness defeating.
Today’s emotional fitness training tip: Think about what matters and what matters as defined by the GGs remains “personal responsiblity, duty, honor and faith.” Faith to my parents meant not a religious faith, but two things: One: not being the center of the universe. Two: faith in an ultimate good and the need to reflect that good in their lives. These four values are more certain paths to happiness than the paths touted by today’s media.
Remember happiness is a by-product of living within an honor code that seeks to make the world more caring, kinder, and not just for those you love, but for all.
Here is today’s free Poster Coach, EFT’s
Finally, this post was inspired by both a Word Press Weekly Writing Challenge on walking in another’s shoes and a Word Press Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you.
Thank you for all you do. I am particularly grateful to those who practice internet kindness by liking, rating, commenting, or sharing my posts.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- The Greatest Generation (en.wikipedia.org)
- Why the Ideals of the Greatest Generation Faltered. (newrepublic.com)
- 12 Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (amazon.com)
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- Weekly Writing Challenge (wordpress.com)