Odd Thoughts: Boom! And the hope is gone again!

Bob Groeneveld ponders generations, and selfishness.

How did we get here?

I’m a Baby Boomer. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had it easy, bar the odd little dip or turn in the road, all of my life. And I know that what those dips and turns have been to avoid pebbles, compared to the boulders that most in the world encounter in their own lives.

I was born on the down-slope of the curve, just a bit past the top of the bell, in the early-mid 1950s.

The baby boom bell curve was born of hope in the aftermath of one of the most despicable displays of what we technically call humanity – although there was very little humanity in that terrible exercise that was the Second World War.

You don’t have to have been there to realize that even the “good guys” did a lot of inhumane things to get through the ’40s.

The Baby Boom was the embodiment of hope as the world tried to rebuild itself. It was the result of a flood of love that filled the huge hole that all the hate had left.

That hope caused me to be born here in Canada, at that time effectively a Third World country that nonetheless was a shining star that drew the eyes – and the minds and bodies – of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Europeans seeking a new and better place than their former homes in the epicentre of hate.

Although I lived through most of the decade, I don’t remember the ’50s much.

Mother’s-knee sort of stuff: playing in the garden, playing in the fields, playing in the living room.

But I remember the ’60s.

Mind you, I was still young enough that mine was mostly an outsider’s view. I could dig the peace, but I didn’t really know what the free love was, much less get any of it, even if my hair was “long as God can grow it” by the end of the decade.

Maybe it was all just a smokescreen for angst and neuroses that had only been temporarily buried – just a scratch beneath the groovy surface.

There were many who suggested that the “flowers in your hair” thing was just a passing fad, and that the vast majority of hippies were just hangers-on, rolling with the in thing until it wasn’t “in” anymore.

They all had to turn 30 at some point, that point at which reality would swallow them up and turn them into money-grubbing mind slaves of the establishment. I began to suspect as much myself when the ’70s brought us EST and transactional analysis and all the other “you have to love yourself before you can truly love others” excuses for being selfish and self-centred.

Perhaps we humans are just that at the core: selfish and self-centred. There is sound science behind the suggestion that even altruism is actually the result of a selfish quest for personal approval – it’s the good feeling you get from doing a good deed that you’re seeking, not the good deed itself.

So perhaps it wasn’t all that hard for the powers-that-be to peel away the veneer of inner bliss and happiness, and expose the selfish fear that seems to have taken over.

Honestly, you have a statistically greater chance of being murdered by a serial killer than you have of being injured by a terrorist in Canada.


And yet, we have Bill C-51, we have a government that campaigns for re-election by promising to keep us “safe,” and we have a rising tide of activism against immigration – against people who like my parents and like those of many of the anti-immigrant supporters, just want a safer place to find hope.



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